Don’t feed babies with adult milk, Paediatricians warn

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A Consultant Paediatrician, Dr Amala Okore, has warned mothers against substituting infant formula with adult milk, saying it can lead to malnutrition or other health complications.

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Okore gave the warning in an interview on Tuesday in Lagos, that it is a worrisome trend of parents switching from infant formula to cow milk (adult milk) due to the economy challenge.

“The nature of the protein in infant formula are made to be easily digestible for infants.

“They also have micronutrients, high in iron, DHA which helps brain support, adult milk doesn’t have all these.

“In the long-term, we will have malnourished children because they are not getting adequate nutrients from milk.

“Even with the adult milk that some mothers give, they aren’t giving enough because some mothers can only afford one or two satchets of the Dano or Peak milk sold at N120 for a child for a day.

“We are having more malnourished children brought to the health facilities than before,” she said.

Okore maintained that the long-term effect of feeding infants with cow milk was that it would affect brain health and development which on a national scale would affect productivity and GDP.

“It’s a vicious cycle because sometimes when I counsel the mothers, I know that what I tell them is not practicable because they don’t have the money.

“We all know how the prices of things have been skyrocketing and changing daily.

“Some of these people don’t even earn the minimum wage, you can’t expect them to buy formulas that the small tin cost about N6,000 and if the child eats it the way he should, that tin shouldn’t last more than four days,” she said.

She advised mothers against over-diluting infant milk to extend quantity.

To address this challenge, Okore advised mothers to embrace exclusive breastfeeding for babies below six months.

She emphasised that exclusive breastfeeding would sort calories issues, boost antibodies, save cost and eliminate hygiene issues for infants.

Similarly, Dr Moruf Abdulsalam, Consultant Paediatric Surgeon, noted that adequate nutrition during infancy and early childhood was critical to ensuring the growth, health, and development of children to their full potential.

Abdulsalam said that adult milk might put infants at risk for intestinal bleeding, adding that it also contained too many proteins and minerals for a baby’s kidneys to handle.

Abdulsalam, who is the Chairman, Medical Guild, also advised parents to make healthy choices that would protect their infants.

The Paediatrician also appealed to government to prioritise citizens-friendly policies.