The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) joins the Iowa Breastfeeding Coalition and other partners in recognizing World Breastfeeding Week August 1 through 7. The event is an opportunity to promote the health benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child, and to encourage more Iowa mothers to choose to breastfeed their babies and continue doing so for the first year of life.
According to the CDC, breast milk alone is sufficient to support optimal growth and development for approximately the first 6 months of life. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breasting continue for at least 12 months.
Nationally, the percentage of infants to begin breastfeeding at birth is high at 77 percent. According to the Iowa Newborn Metabolic Screening Profile, Iowa exceeded the national rate in 2013 at 77.69 percent. Iowa’s rate of breastfeeding at birth has risen steadily each year; however, the percentage of mothers report continuing to breastfeed at six months drops to 50 percent or less. The IDPH Bureau of Nutrition and Health Promotion provides technical assistance to birthing hospitals, health care professionals and local breastfeeding taskforces in their efforts to support breastfeeding mothers and infants.
Breastfeeding has many benefits for mothers and babies including:
- Reducing the risk of ear and respiratory infections, diarrhea, and stomach problems for infants;
- Lowering the risk of asthma, diabetes, leukemia and childhood obesity for infants;
- Decreasing the risk of breast and ovarian cancer and diabetes for mothers;
- Reducing the incidence of postpartum depression;
- Allowing the mother’s uterus to recover from pregnancy and childbirth more quickly.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act amended section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act to require employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk. Employers are also required to provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk. The break time requirement became effective when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law on March 23, 2010.
For more information on breastfeeding rates in Iowa and how IDPH offers breastfeeding promotion and support, visit www.idph.state.ia.us/wic/Breastfeeding.aspx. To see more on the benefits of breastfeeding, go to www.womenshealth.gov/itsonlynatural/addressing-myths/incredible-facts-about-babies-breast-milk.html. Visit http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/ for more on World Breastfeeding Week.