Editorial: House bill to support breastfeeding

Editorial: House bill to support breastfeeding

During this year's legislative session, Georgia State lawmakers presented House Bill 649 in support of breastfeeding. This is a bill that Phoebe stands behind.

With this bill, which endorses the skills and knowledge of the International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, we will be better able to establish consistent practices across the healthcare community to increase the rates of breastfeeding.

The merits of breastfeeding are many and varied, including the health of mothers and babies, and financial savings.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies have exclusive nourishment of breast milk for the first six months of life.

In Georgia, 74 percent of moms are leaving the hospital breastfeeding their babies, but only 19 percent are successful in meeting the six-month breastfeeding recommendations.

In addition, 68 percent of moms quit before they had intended because of unexpected difficulties or problems.

Research has also shown that breastfeeding has an astonishing effect on multiple disease processes inherent in many of our Southwest Georgia children.

Breastfeeding provides active and passive immunity, in the susceptible early months and years of a baby's life, to life-threatening illnesses such as pneumonia and gastrointestinal infections.

The rate of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is 56 percent higher in infants who are never breastfed.

Infants who are breastfed have significantly lower rates of ear infections, asthma, Type 2 diabetes, and childhood obesity.

Breastfeeding also improves the health of mothers by reducing their risk of breast cancer, diabetes, ovarian cancer and cardiovascular disease, which is the number one killer of women.

Lastly, breastfeeding plays an important role in public health.

The financial costs associated with breast feeding are much lower than those for the formula fed infant, and breastfeeding seldom requires any durable medical equipment, drugs or infrastructure.

As the medical director of Women's and Children's Services at Phoebe, I would like to applaud house lawmakers for passing this bill and the opportunity to have a positive impact on our patients-both mothers and infants.

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