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Encourages Mothers To Breastfeed

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

In honor of the 2008 World Breastfeeding Week, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) stresses the importance of providing support for breastfeeding families.

Additionally, Kentucky celebrates the month of August as World Breastfeeding Month.

This year’s theme, “Mother Support: Going for the Gold - Everyone Wins When Babies Breastfeed,” calls on health professionals, employers, families and communities to provide a breastfeeding-friendly environment that helps new mothers reach their breastfeeding goals.

“Research is clear that breastfeeding is the gold standard in infant feeding, providing both nutritional and health advantages that last far beyond infancy,” said William Hacker, M.D., DPH commissioner. “Women have more success with breastfeeding when they receive consistent and accurate information, and are supported by their health care providers, family and community.”

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently published an analysis of studies on the impact of breastfeeding in developed countries. Published in 2007, one conclusion was that breastfeeding has a profound impact on both infant and maternal health, including reducing the risk of ear infections, gastroenteritis, respiratory tract infections, dermatitis, asthma, obesity, type 1 and 2 diabetes, childhood leukemia and sudden infant death syndrome in the child, as well as breast cancer, ovarian cancer and type 2 diabetes in the mother.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that women breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of their baby’s life and continue breastfeeding for at least two years while babies begin eating appropriate complementary foods.

“Many mothers are aware of the importance of breastfeeding” said Becky Derifield, state breastfeeding promotion coordinator. “However, when some women are faced with challenges they stop or supplement with artificial baby milk before the recommended time. One of the biggest factors in discontinuing breastfeeding is the lack of support from families, health care providers, employers and communities.”

The Kentucky WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program provides support and information for prenatal and breastfeeding mothers to help ensure good health for Kentucky’s babies. The program is operated through local health departments, provides one-on-one counseling, information and round-the-clock guidance for mothers new to breastfeeding.

The United States Department of Agriculture funds the program through a grant. It is available to the participants of the WIC Program in designated agencies.

Additional options for mothers include International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC), who provide professional education and support to new mothers and help them work through challenges.