UNICEF speaks out about the newborn who died due to severe dehydration

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UNICEF UK has released a statement on the tragic death of a newborn, bringing to light vital information all parents must know. Read on to find out more

After UK-based mom Jillian Johnson lost her newborn son, Landon, due to severe dehydration, it prompted UNICEF to clarify that replacing formula with breast milk isn’t enough to address this serious but extremely rare condition.

Though no one can question breastfeeding’s myriad of benefits for both mother and child, this case also shed light on the pressures on new moms to breastfeed exclusively after giving birth.

According to the Philippine Milk Code (Executive Order no. 51), hospitals and other institutions should strive to promote breastfeeding. The goal of this code is to provide "safe and adequate nutrition for infants by the protection and promotion of breast feeding and by ensuring the proper use of breastmilk substitutes and breastmilk supplements when these are necessary, on the basis of adequate information and through appropriate marketing and distribution."

Ultimately, though, moms are free to choose what method of feeding would be best.

mothers guilty breastfeeding formula

Through their Baby-friendly Initiative, UNICEF UK released a statement emphasizing how moms and babies must receive proper support, specifically during the first days after birth, which are the most critical hours of life.

They also stated that formula milk would not be needed to prevent hypernatremic dehydration, which was the Johnsons’ newborn’s cause of death.

"Our work in the U.K. with health services over the past 20 years, as well as extensive evidence on the issue, demonstrates that hypernatremic dehydration in the absence of underlying illness is highly preventable, without the need for routine supplementation of all babies, which has been shown to undermine breastfeeding success,” the statement read.

Here are some reminders UNICEF UK believes breastfeeding moms should know:

• Moms should know whether their baby is getting enough breast milk before leaving the hospital
• Ask your doctor if your baby is at risk for hypoglycemia
• Preemies or newborns with metabolic disorders and neonatal infections need to be closely monitored and nourished based on a proper feeding plan
• Get the support you need through a doctor or lactation expert
• Ask the nurses to teach you proper latching and breastfeeding techniques

"With early detection, most breastfeeding problems can be quickly resolved; however, in a few cases the problems will be more complex, and supplementation may be required,” reassured the Baby Friendly initiative, acknowledging “the need for supplementation while continuing to provide support to maintain lactation.”

Refer to this checklist and information sheet from the UNICEF UK's Baby-friendly Initiative to effectively monitor your newborn’s first month of feeding.

READ: Pressuring mothers to exclusively breastfeed can put newborns at risk of starvation

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