Pregnancy and early childhood: most common good practices but can be improved

There is an increasing awareness among mothers of the importance of certain practices during pregnancy and the first years of the baby’s life, although much can be done on breastfeeding and for the prevention of congenital malformations in particular. This is the photograph taken by the early childhood surveillance system, coordinated by the ISS, in which 11 regions participate, promoted and financed by the Ministry of Health. The study involved around 30,000 mothers and was conducted between December 2018 and April 2019.


Almost all (93.8%) of mothers report that they did not smoke during pregnancy and the majority (64%) put their baby to sleep on their stomachs in compliance with what is recommended to prevent sudden death in a cot . On the other hand, the percentage of children potentially exposed to secondhand smoke is high.


The percentage of children potentially exposed to secondhand smoke due to living with at least one parent and / or another smoker is high (41.9%). Almost all mothers (97.3%) took folic acid during pregnancy, but few (21.7%) did it appropriately by starting it at least a month before conception.


About 15% of mothers of children under 6 months report having difficulties in making them sit and fastened to the seat, a share that rises to 34.2% over the year of age.


On the other hand, as regards the risk of incurring a domestic accident, it is high among children, especially under 5 years of age. 6.3% of mothers of children under the age of 6 months said they had turned to a doctor (pediatrician or other) and / or emergency room for a domestic accident that occurred to their child and the prevalence increases reaching 19, 8% above one year of age.


Too many are children who spend time in front of a screen already from the first months of life: 34.3% of children under 6 months and 76.4% of children over one year of age.


And too few are exclusively breastfed babies for the time recommended by WHO: just 23.6% at 4-5 months of age. WHO and UNICEF recommend exclusively breastfeeding up to 6 months of age and prolonging breastfeeding up to 2 years and beyond if desired by the mother and child.


“In the period between the conception and the completion of the second year of life, the foundations are laid for the psycho-physical development of the child – explained Angela Spinelli, Director of the National Center for Disease Prevention and Health Promotion of the ISS– The new Surveillance collects important information on some determinants of children’s health, showing wide variability in behavior and ample room for action and improvement. The results, if they show that many parents have now understood the importance of putting babies to sleep on their stomachs and the percentage of non-breastfeeding mothers has decreased, they also highlight that only one mother out of 4 still breastfeeds her baby. exclusively at 4-5 months of life and still many do not take folic acid before the onset of pregnancy “.


by Abdullah Sam
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