When it comes to breast-feeding, mothers favour boys and tend to neglect girls, a pattern particularly prevalent in slum and tribal areas, a study conducted by Tata Memorial Hospital in tribal areas of Thane, said.
The study published in ‘International Journal of Community Medicine and Public Health’, underscored that mothers often discriminate against their children while breastfeeding them, leading to adverse effects on their health.
Owing to this differentiation, the boys tend to be healthier than girls, as it is essential to breastfeed newborn babies till they are six months old. “Usually, prevalence of severe malnutrition is much more in young girls compared to young boys below five. This is owing to differential child-rearing practices observed in feeding and health care,” stated the study that was headed by Dr Naveen Chandrahas Khargekar, department of Preventive Oncology, Tata Memorial Hospital.
Due to their preference for boys, often a mother does not breastfeed a newborn girl child adequately, the study said. “Breastfeeding among newborns is essential as it provides them nutrition and also increases their immunity against illnesses. In fact, it also has a long-lasting effect on their health that protects them from non-communicable diseases,” said Dr Kaya Mehta, a paediatrician from Mulund.
“The gender-based discrimination in breast-feeding is not as common among urban residents as it is among those residing in slums and tribal areas,” she added.
A similar study conducted by T.N. Medical College, Mumbai, had also come up with the same results. The study conducted in the slums of Mumbai by the department of community medicine stated, “The timely initiation of complementary feeding is more in boys (64.5%) as compared to girls (35.49%).”...