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UNICEF: "Baby Tents" offer safe space for breastfeeding in Haiti

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Uploaded on Feb 21, 2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, 18 February 2010—Amidst the collapsed buildings and temporary camps of this battered city stand 12 special tents dedicated to providing mothers and their infant children a safe and calm place to breastfeed.

The 'baby tents' are run by Action Against Hunger, with support from UNICEF.

Many Haitian mothers stopped breastfeeding as a result of myths that arose after the quake, including that stress makes a mother's milk dry up. Another myth is that if a mother is not eating properly, her milk is not good.

These misconceptions triggered a massive influx of donated powdered infant formula into Haiti, which has created a dangerous situation. Because many Haitians lack clean water, they're tempted to mix the formula with dirty water, which can leave their infants with life-threatening diarrhoea.

UNICEF Nutritionist Ali Maclaine says people need to be aware of the consequences before sending powdered infant formula."You think you're saving babies, but you are actually risking their health and lives," she said.

As in any emergency, Haiti's infants and young children are the most vulnerable survivors of the quake. Breastfeeding is an affordable and vital way to help keep them alive and healthy.

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