Children less than six months of age should not be given any diet as an alternative to breastfeeding, said speakers at an awareness programme in Chittagong yesterday.
Also, punitive actions should be taken against those who instigate the mothers to go for such diets unnecessarily, they added.
For a child's normal growth, breastfeeding is essential as it contains vital nutrients for the infants and helps increase resistance power, they said.
Bangladesh Breastfeeding Foundation organised the event at the conference room of the office of director (health), Chittagong. Dr AM Mujibul Haque, director (health), Chittagong division, chaired the event.
Dr Mujibul said there is a law to control the marketing and sales of unnecessary diets for babies. “If someone violates the law, there is a provision of punishment against the liable people,” he said. “It is a matter of concern that the law is being violated in many ways.”
Gazi Mohammad Shahin, divisional officer of Bangladesh Breastfeeding Foundation, Chittagong, said a medical officer can prescribe an alternative diet for children under six months only when it is necessary to save the life of that child or to minimise health risk.
“In some cases it is necessary to go for an alternative diet. For example, if a mother dies at the time of child birth; if the mother becomes severely sick or the mother's milk is not available for some complicated medical conditions,” he said.
“But no medical officer or any health official can unnecessarily prescribe or suggest or instigate the mothers to go for the alternatives.”
Md Nurul Alam, director of the department of family planning, sought the cooperation of health professionals to prevent the misuse of alternative baby diets and to implement the breastfeeding programme. Chittagong Civil Surgeon Dr Azizur Rahaman Siddique was also present.