President-Elect Obama has affirmed his commitment to tackling the health care crisis, and the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) is ready to tell him one great way to do so: support breastfeeding!
Citing the numerous studies on the benefits of breastfeeding, USBC states:
Excess health care costs totaling more than $4 billion must be paid by the U.S. health care system each year to treat otitis media, gastroenteritis, and necrotizing enterocolitis–childhood diseases and conditions preventable or reduced by breastfeeding. When prevention of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic conditions is factored in, the potential economic benefits of breastfeeding are significantly greater.
They go on to urge the President-Elect to take the following steps during his administration:
1. Instruct the Surgeon General to issue a statement in support of breastfeeding urging all sectors (governmental and non-governmental) involved in supporting women, children, and families to improve their breastfeeding policies.
2. Enact a national paid family leave policy and educate them—from websites like Marketreview.com/insurance/health/—on their health insurance benefits.
3. Endorse the World Health Organization’s International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes as well as the Global Strategy for Infant & Young Child Feeding.
4. Ask the Federal Trade Commission to monitor infant formula marketing.
5. Ask the Food and Drug Administration to include labeling on powdered infant formula warning that it is not sterile and providing instructions on how to properly reconstitute it.
6. Highlight the benefits for employers of workplace breastfeeding support programs as part of your program to promote flexible work arrangements.
7. Urge all insurers to cover lactation care and support services.
8. Approve an increase in breastfeeding support funds for the USDA’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), especially to support the peer counseling program.
9. Instruct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to recommend that all hospitals achieve the Baby-Friendly designation.
10. Ensure that emergency management agencies are trained in breastfeeding support and have breastfeeding supply kits available for distribution in emergencies.
Want to lend your voice to this debate? You can sign the USBC Breastfeeding Petition too!
7 thoughts on “Urge President-Elect Obama to support breastfeeding!”
This is a fantastic list!
There is no doubt that breast milk is very important for healthy development. So I commend you for writing a thoughtful post for promoting this practice.
I recently read that breastfed babies are at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Do you know if that is true? What are some of the recommendations for breastfed babies to ensure adequate vitamin D intake?
Thank you for compiling this great list! I will get the word out to others, too. I am hoping the the First Lady will pick breastfeeding, or some other important family issue, to focus on as her pet project.
Just to clarify, API did not assemble this list, the USBC did.
As for the Vitamin D deficiency debate, the AAP is recommending vitamin D supplements for breastfed babies. I think this flies in the face of reason (i.e. our species evolved producing milk that is nutritionally perfect for our offspring!) and may mislead mothers into believing that vitamin D enriched formula is therefore better for their babies than breastmilk.
The truth is that Vitamin D deficiency happens when a human (adult, child, or infant) does not have enough exposure to sunlight, because it is a vitamin created by the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight.
I would propose that it is a misplaced fear of exposure to sunlight–and not a deficiency in breastmilk–that is causing deficiency in parents and their babies.
Thanks for the clarification on the vitamin D deficiency debate.
I do not favor jumping to supplements just beacuse the baby is exclusively breastfed.
The data seems real though. How do you advice parents to assess the risk specific to their baby and take corrective action if needed? I think assuming that “our species evolved producing milk that is perfect for our offsprings” is not enough to feel confident. Our lifestyle and eating habits are very different today, and I think parents should make an informed decision and not assume that things would be ok just because.
Good point–we are certainly not living similar lives or eating similar diets to folks living hundreds (or even 50) years ago, and I am definitely in favor of families doing what they feel is right for their unique situation. But I still think parents can handle this without risking vitamin deficiency AND without resorting to supplements (which, frankly, are never absorbed as well as the naturally-derived Vit. D) or opting for formula instead of breastmilk.
The recommendation that folks wanting to ensure adequate Vitamin D should spend 15 minutes in the sun per day still holds. It’s the huge fear of sun, in my opinion, that is leading to this deficiency, not breastfeeding. 15 minutes of off-peak (before 10am or after 2pm) sun on arms and face is not going to cause a burn even on a baby (my children–and myself, honestly–are extremely fair and we live at elevation where the sun is intense, so I think we’re a pretty good proof of my theory here).
Now, if a parent knows they have Vit D deficiency (there can be some causes besides not getting enough sun) or if there are any indications of a deficiency in a child, they should absolutely talk to their doctor and consider the supplements, but my objection is to telling folks across the board that breastfed babies need a supplement. This clearly implies that breastmilk is deficient in some way and of course you can bet formula companies are waiting in the wings to tout the Vitamin D in their formula…