Breast feeding lowers risk of breast, ovarian cancer – NAFDAC

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Lagos, Aug. 9, 2023 – Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, the Director General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC, has advised nursing mothers to give optimal breastfeeding to their children to lower their risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Adeyeye gave the advice during the 2023 World Breastfeeding Week celebration with the theme “Enabling breastfeeding makes a difference for working parents.”

She said breastfed babies have stronger immunity, and a reduced risk of suffering many childhood illnesses and infections.

Adeyeye said the Agency recently created an Office of Women’s Health, a multi-disciplinary center, where issues that concern maternal and child health will be continuously addressed as part of underscoring the importance of creating an enabling environment for child health,

Adeyeye, who was represented by the Director of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (FSAN), Mrs. Eva Edwards, said that breast feeding is also associated with longer-term health benefits including reduced risk of overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence.

She said that breastfeeding also provided health benefits to mothers, by helping to prevent postpartum bleeding, support child spacing, lower the risk of breast and ovarian cancers and earlier return to pre-pregnancy body weight.

According to NAFDAC boss, this year’s theme was apt as it was aimed at strengthening the collaboration of actors across different levels of society to support and promote breastfeeding for working parents so that women could combine breastfeeding and work.

She added that this is important because workplace challenges remained one of the most common reasons for women to stop breastfeeding earlier than recommended.

 Adeyeye said that a workplace needed adequate breastfeeding facilities to become a breastfeeding-friendly workplace, adding that lack of conducive breastfeeding environment, especially for working mothers, hindered breastfeeding of infants.

She said that with provision of appropriate lactation rooms in workplaces, employers stood to benefit as it would lead to happier, more dependable, and productive employees.

‘’It also leads to reduced absenteeism because breastfeeding employees’ babies get sick less often and less severely,’’ she said.

Adeyeye, however, said there was still a lot of work to be done in creating an enabling breastfeeding environment to promote the best nutrition, health, and environmental outcomes. 

One contributory strategy to achieving this, she said, is enforcing compliance with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes established to protect and promote breastfeeding and protect mothers from inappropriate marketing of breastmilk substitutes by industry.

She said NAFDAC had been resolute in her commitment to promoting and protecting breastfeeding as it recognized the threats that aggressive marketing of breastmilk substitutes (BMS) poses to optimal breastfeeding practice.

The NAFDAC boss said the revised Marketing of Infant and Young Children Food and other Designated Products (Registration, Sales etc.) Regulations had incorporated subsequent relevant World Health Assembly resolutions and recommendations on the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.

Amongst other provisions, she said, it prohibits unethical marketing practices by infant food manufacturers.

‘’This is in recognition of the fact that aggressive marketing of breastmilk substitutes is among the factors that contribute to undermining breastfeeding and is associated with decreases in breastfeeding rates.’’

While we will continue to strengthen the implementation, monitoring and enforcement of the Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and our national regulations.”

 She implored everyone to join hands with NAFDAC as breastfeeding is a cost-effective investment in the nation’s health, economy, and future workforce.

The DG stated that this year’s themewas intendedto enhance support for breastfeeding at work and galvanize action on improving working conditions and relevant support for breastfeeding. She added that it would address a strategic opportunity to advocate for essential maternity rights that support breastfeeding and workplace space for breastfeeding.

She said that evidence showed that optimal breastfeeding was vital to the lifelong good health and wellbeing of women and children, stressing that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended early initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of birth, feeding the child only breast milk for the first 6 months (exclusive breastfeeding), and continuing to breastfeed for up to 24 months or beyond, with introduction of nutritionally adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods at sixmonths.

Adeyeye said that NAFDAC stance on breastfeeding aligned well with the creation of NAFDA Office of Women’s Health (NWH).

The Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN), Lagos Chapter, also said that nutrition is essential for a healthy breastfeeding journey.

Mrs. Chioma Emma-Nwachukwu,  the Programme Team Lead of NSN, Lagos Chapter, admonished mothers to also maintain a balanced diet and stay hydrated to provide the best for their little one.

‘’Your diet influences the quality of your breastmilk and, in turn, affects your baby’s health. Embrace foods that boost lactation and enhance your baby’s well-being,’’ she said.

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