NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenya’s Faith Nyokabi, 25 years old, was last
month charged with child neglect after refusing to breastfeed
her four months old toddler.
The young mother had
earlier demanded 100 U.S. dollars from her husband to breast
feed the toddler and backed out when her extortionate scheme
failed to materialize.
denied the allegations and was released on a cash bail of 30
dollars pending the mentioning of her case in the middle of
Nyokabi, just like
many other young women in urban settings, are more than often
reluctant to breastfeed their babies for a number of reasons.
Among the reasons
cited by the young mothers are - fear of losing income which
they say is occasioned by inadequate maternity and paternity
leave legislation and other workplace policies that support a
woman’s ability to breastfeed when she returns to work.
Another reason is
that of caregiver and societal beliefs favoring mixed feeding.
This for instance believes an infant needs additional liquids or
solids before six months because breast milk alone is not
However, many of
these women are oblivious to dangers they are putting themselves
Geoffrey Mutuma, a Kenyan Cancer Specialist and founder of
Nairobi Cancer Registry, failing to breastfeed totally or for
less than six months are risk factors for breast, ovarian and
uterine cancers among women.
Mutuma told Xinhua
that breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer primarily
through two mechanisms: one way is that the human milk
scientifically known as hamlet induces the death of tumor cells
active in the breasts.
He added that
clinical research has proven that the complex components of
human milk secretion lowers the risk of breast cancer in women
who breastfeed their babies exclusively for a certain period of
As a result, hamlet
provides safe and effective protection against the development
of breast cancer. Breastfeeding also offers protection against
ovarian cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and type two diabetes.
Another way in which
breastfeeding reduces chances of getting cancer is because of
the differentiation of breast tissues and reduction of lifetime
number of ovulatory cycles.
“I would urge women
especially the working mothers to breast feed exclusively for at
least six months. This will not only be beneficial to the baby
but also to the mother as it lowers to the chances of getting
breast cancer,” said Mutuma.
Experts contend that
exclusive breastfeeding is the cornerstone of child survival and
child health because it provides essential, irreplaceable
nutrition for a child’s growth and development.
It serves as a
child’s first immunization - providing protection from
respiratory infections, diarrhea disease, and other potentially
Globally, only 38
percent of infants aged 0 to 6 months are exclusively
indicate that suboptimal breastfeeding practices, including
non-exclusive breastfeeding, contribute to 11.6 percent of
mortality in children under 5 years of age.
Deputy Head of Nutrition and Dietetics in Kenya’s Ministry of
Health, revealed that the country has made significant strides
in doubling the number of babies being exclusively breastfed
from 32 percent in 2008 to the current 61 percent.
Mugambi noted that
more needs to be done to ensure that all babies take nothing but
breast milk for the first six months of their lives.
She said women tend
to discontinue exclusive breastfeeding at four months, around
the time they have returned to work after a 90-day maternity
In addressing this
challenges, the government amended Health Act to include a
clause which stipulates that every organization with more than
30 employees must have a lactation station for mothers.
Mutuma said breast
cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women.
“Another cause of
cancer is the use of hormonal-based contraceptives. The combined
pill which contains the female sex hormones estrogen and
progestogen prevent pregnancy by stopping the ovaries releasing
eggs (called ovulation),” said Mutuma.
hormones can increase the growth of some breast cancers which
might explain why taking the pill slightly increases the risk of
In every nine women
in Kenya, one will have breast cancer. Hormonal changes are the
major cause of different cases affecting woman. I would urge
every woman in the child bearing age to go for cancer screening
and vaccination,” he added.