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Kenya’s Ministry of Health announces ban on feeding bottles

Ban on feeding bottles; Kenya’s Ministry of Health has announced the ban on feeding bottles as of May 28, 2022.

The Parliament recently passed into law the Breast Milk Supplements (BMS) Regulation and Control Act of 2012 which listed the bottles used for feeding infants as designated products, to mean items that are within the scope of regulation by the law.

According to experts, bottle use often interferes with breastfeeding.

From May 28, bottles, teats, pacifiers, and cups with spouts will not be allowed as containers for use when it comes to feeding babies.

Manufacturers of baby foods, including infant formula, complementary feeds, and baby feeding equipment will be expected to comply with the standards and general regulations outlined in the law.

Ms. Esther Mogusu, the principal nutrition and dietetics officer at Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS), praised the government’s position and maintained that feeding bottles do more harm than good.

“The reason they are regulated is whatever content is fed (to a baby) using bottles is not breast milk, but often will be a non-nutritious fluid.

The teats from which the child feeds are made of silicon, which does not have the same texture as the breast nipple, and this causes what is known as nipple confusion, leading to refusal to breastfeed by the baby,” she told the Nation.

Ms. Mogusu further explained that suckling from a bottle causes pressure on the inner ear and children will suffer recurrent ear inflammation.

The teat also causes misalignment of the jaw because of the fact that a child has to bite on it, leading to dental caries because of sugars from the fluid in the bottle. Bottles are not easy to clean because they have multiple grooves and often hide bacteria and microorganisms, making it difficult to clean by washing regularly, causing frequent diarrhea and infections to the child.

Ban on feeding bottles; social and economic effects

Dr Patrick Amoth, the acting director-general at the Health Ministry, said as per the 2019 Social and Economic Effects of Child Undernutrition Kenya Country Report, in 2014, the Kenyan economy lost Sh373.9 billion (US$ 4.2 billion) or 6.9 percent of the gross domestic product due to health, education and productivity-related costs associated with child undernutrition.

Dr. Amoth lamented that malnutrition was an impediment to the progress towards achieving the global, regional and national social and economic development goals, such as Vision 2030.

It was also the cause of half of the child deaths worldwide, denying generations the chance to grow to their full physical and cognitive potential and significantly impacting health outcomes, and national economic development.

“In Kenya, malnutrition is a leading cause of infant and child morbidity, mortality, and hospital admission, a situation that urgently requires our interventions as stakeholders,” said Dr. Amoth.

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