Children in Crisis

A video from the Infant Feeding Support for Refugee Children group.

‪#‎SafelyFed‬ Refugee children in ‪#‎Idomeni‬ are in crisis. Learn how you can give donations of money to ensure that all infants – breastfed and non-breastfed – receive skilled support for safe nutrition in emergencies.

Visit www.safelyfed.org/donate

Infants and young children under 2 are especially vulnerable to illness, malnutrition, and death during humanitarian crises. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in emergency situations artificial feeding increases the risk of death by diarrhoeal by 1300% as compared to breastfed infants. A baby may die within days of the onset of diarrhoeal disease. The younger the baby, the greater the risks of artificial feeding.

In this emergency, the transit context introduces serious challenges to safer formula feeding. Mass donations of powder formula, bottles, and teats increases the risks of infant death by diarrhea and malnutrition. This is because where refugee families are throughout Greece, they do not have access to the potable water, sanitation, or the supplies needed to properly prepare formula or scrub and sterilize bottles and teats.

UNICEF, WHO, WFP, International Medical Corps, and Save the Children have called for breastfeeding support and outline conditions for use of breast milk substitutes: http://www.unicef.org/media/media_57962.html

When artificial feeding is required, ready-to-feed (UHT) formula is recommended for infants less than 6 months. Non-breastfed infants more than 6 months and toddlers may have UHT milk or yogurt, along with healthy, age-appropriate complementary foods. Cup feeding is more hygienic than bottle feeding.

Breastfed infants should be exclusively breastfed for 6 months, and then breastfeeding should continue for as long as possible, up to two years and beyond. After 6 months breastfed infants may receive healthy, age-appropriate complementary foods. Relactation is possible for mothers who have stopped breastfeeding and wish to begin again. Cross-nursing (“wet nursing”) is recommended before offering breastmilk substitutes in emergencies. Formula should be used a last resort when all other options have been ruled out.

GIVE MONEY, NOT FORMULA OR BOTTLES to organizations providing infant and young child feeding aid. Donations of money allow them to purchase exactly the supplies needed, when needed, to deliver infant feeding support that does not put infants at further risk.

Learn about the IFE Core Group recommendations for supporting families with infants and young children in transit.

These recommendations have been translated into easy-to-use documents for aid workers and families: http://safelyfed.org/resources/

Read more

Breastfeeding among Refugee Mothers on the Balkan Route

In this post, Dr. Vera Dimitrievska reports on the status of infant and young child feeding among refugee families in transit along the Balkan Route. In November, 2015, UNICEF reported that 52% of those crossing the borders in the Balkans were women and children. With a lack of access of basic health services and a shortage of translators who speak their native language on this route, many mothers with babies also do not have access to information regarding recommended breastfeeding and safe infant and young child feeding in emergencies practices.

read more Breastfeeding among Refugee Mothers on the Balkan Route

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Why breastfeeding mothers request and use donated infant formula

This Guest Post by Dr. Karleen Gribble is the first in a series that will focus on Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies. Supporting breastfeeding and ensuring that infants who are not breastfed are protected from the catastrophic risks of formula feeding in emergencies are major global health concerns. Formula feeding is extremely hazardous in emergencies without the resources to protect infants from contaminated water, bottles, and formula powder. Misunderstandings about infant feeding in emergencies increase the likelihood that formula will be given out in ways that are detrimental to breastfeeding. When breastfeeding ends and formula feeding begins, in emergencies, infant mortality rises dramatically. In this guest post, Dr. Gribble describes why mothers who are breastfeeding may request formula.

read more Why breastfeeding mothers request and use donated infant formula