WIC Nutrition Program Increases NH Breastfeeding Rates
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program is announcing record high breastfeeding rates for women enrolled in the NH WIC program. The data shows the NH WIC Program reached its highest rate ever of 66.6% of all women initiating breastfeeding during 2007.
"The WIC Program stands out as a model in promoting breastfeeding as the healthiest way to feed infants," said DHHS Director of Public Health Dr Jose T. Montero. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stresses breastfeeding as one critical strategy for reducing childhood overweight and obesity, including using breastfeeding peer counselors to increase the initiation and duration rates of breastfeeding among low-income women. Breastfeeding is one of the target areas addressed in New Hampshire's Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) obesity prevention plan."
The recent study shows the rate of almost 67% for women breastfeeding any length of time is significantly higher than New Hampshire's rate 10 years ago of 47.1%. Highest rates were seen in Black and Hispanic women, women aged 30-39 years old, and women who had an education beyond high school. Highest rates in the State were seen in Carroll, Grafton, and Merrimack counties.
Research shows both babies and mothers gain many health benefits from breastfeeding. Breast milk is easy to digest and contains antibodies that can protect infants from bacterial and viral infections. Research indicates that women who breastfeed may have lower rates of certain breast and ovarian cancers.
The WIC nutrition program provides nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and nutrition foods to low to moderate-income families with pregnant women, infants and preschool children. Breastfeeding support includes trained and certified nutrition staff and breastfeeding peer counselors. All WIC agencies in New Hampshire support mothers returning to work or school by providing breast pumps.