With 1.1 million infants dying in India in their first month of life itself, the country stands a poor sixth among the eight South Asian countries surveyed in terms of preventive measures each adopts to protect the young ones.
The State of World's Breastfeeding: South Asia Report Card-2006, a report carried out by International Baby Food Action Network Asian Pacific states that apart from these deaths, another 500,000 infants die in the country between the second and 12th month of their lives.
The report suggests that if all mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of the birth, 22 percent of these deaths could be reduced.
The international agency along with the Indian government and non-government organisations had carried out the study. The rating of all the eight countries was made on 15 different indicators relating to initiation of breastfeeding, median duration of breastfeeding, bottle feeding and national policy, programme and coordination.
The report also takes into account details of baby friendly hospital initiative, maternity protection, health and nutrition care and community outreach.
Topping the chart for taking initiatives to protect the lives of young ones was Sri Lanka followed by Bangladesh, Maldives and Pakistan. Nepal is at the fifth position in the list.
According to the report, more than 1.4 million babies are estimated to die in South Asia during the first month of life and another 2.2 million between second and 12th month. The study also suggests that more than 13 percent of child deaths could be averted in South Asia if optimal breastfeeding were in place up to 90 percent.