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Post a reply: Guidance Note: IYCF-E in the first three days after a nuclear power plant accident

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There is increasing concern about nuclear accidents and emergencies recently as a result of disruption to a nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

While there is clear guidance on what to do in case of a nuclear emergency for the general population, there has been a lack of clear comprehensive guidance on infant and young child feeding for caregivers and health workers providing feeding support.

Guidance has been contradictory or often focused on the risk of exposure to radioactive materials without fully balancing the risks of morbidity and mortality associated with not breastfeeding.

The conflict in Ukraine adds additional complexity as resources needed to use breastmilk substitutes safely could be unavailable or difficult to obtain.

After the nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan in 2011, fear of transmitting radioactive materials to infants through breastmilk led to many mothers switching from breastfeeding to formula feeding despite being advised by health authorities to continue breastfeeding (Ishii et al, 2016). Nuclear accidents such as Fukushima demonstrate how critically important it is to provide clear and accurate information, reassurance and guidance to ensure appropriate infant and young child feeding in a nuclear emergency and especially to ensure that breastfeeding is not unnecessarily interrupted.

A guidance note, "Infant and young child feeding in the first three days after a nuclear power plant accident” has been finalised in the context of the Ukraine conflict, for healthcare workers and emergency planners on the ground to optimally support infants and young children. This guidance should be used in conjunction with existing guidance for the general public, healthcare workers and policy makers. It does not cover infant and young child feeding in the context of nuclear warfare. Recommendations are based on the best available evidence with full consideration of the risks associated with radiation exposure and the risks of interrupting breastfeeding. This guidance reflects our collective knowledge and draws on expertise from the fields of radiation, nuclear emergency, infant and young child feeding in emergencies, and communication, among other expertise. We gratefully acknowledge the timely feedback and input from expert reviewers. We acknowledge that this guidance will evolve over time as more information becomes available and we welcome suggestions for improvement to ife@ennonline.net.

Please access the new guidance here.

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