Spanish mums too underfed to breastfeed

Nurses in Catalonia have warned that Spain’s economic crisis is having a profound effect on the health of mothers and their new-borns.

Spanish mums too underfed to breastfeed
"They simply can’t breastfeed because they're lacking all the nutrients," says the head of Catalonia's nursing association. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP

Anna Pedraza, president of Catalonia's Paediatric Nursing Association, told the Catalan Parliament on Wednesday that the trend of undernourished mothers who are unable to breastfeed their babies is growing at an alarming rate in the region.

"There's been a lot of talk recently about children (in Spain) going hungry, but let's not forget about the mothers," Pedraza said in Parliament.

"They simply can't breastfeed because they're lacking all the nutrients."

According to the World Health Organization, babies should be breastfed for the first six months of their life rather than be given the artificial milk many mothers in Catalonia are now having to opt for.

The nursing association’s vice-president Cristina Rey pointed out that these young children then rely on food banks which “offer very little variety” of nutrients, a problem which directly "affects their growth".

Protein intake in their diets quadruples the healthy amount, Rey added.

A report by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights published last October describesd accounts of "children fainting at  school due to lack of proper meals" and "wearing the same clothes at school for three consecutive weeks, due to poverty."

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