The summer 2018 issue of NACCHO Exchange showcases the ways in which local health departments are implementing policy, systems, and environment changes to increase breastfeeding rates in their communities. Below is an excerpt from the issue.
By Emily Bernard, IBCLC, NACCHO Consultant; Harumi Reis-Reilly, MS, LDN, CHES, IBCLC, Lead Program Analyst, Breastfeeding Project, NACCHO; and Nikia Fuller-Sankofa, MPH, MPA, Director, Breastfeeding Project, NACCHO
Breastfeeding in the Community: Using Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change Strategies to Facilitate Continuity of Care
Leading health agencies in the United States recognize breastfeeding as a public health priority, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Suboptimal breastfeeding has significant public health implications. Because human milk contains unreplaceable immunomodulation properties and live substances including antibodies, hormones, and enzymes that are not found in breast milk substitutes, infants who are not breastfed do not receive the same protection against illnesses.1 Not breastfeeding also increases the mother’s risk of several diseases, including breast cancer, ovarian cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and type 2 diabetes. Infants who are not breastfed have higher rates of diarrhea, necrotizing enterocolitis, otitis media, sudden infant death syndrome, obesity, and childhood leukemia.2 Annually, suboptimal breastfeeding contributes to 3,340 excess deaths, with medical costs totaling $3 billion and the costs of premature death totaling $14.2 billion.3 Continue reading