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FOR RELEASE: July 18, 2002
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
405/271-5601

World Breastfeeding Week Promotes Healthy Mothers and Healthy Babies

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) reports that more moms were breastfeeding their babies in 2001. Statistics show that approximately 71 percent of moms were breastfeeding upon discharge from the hospital compared to approximately 53 percent in 1991.

To celebrate World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7, health care professionals are stressing the many ways that breastfeeding benefits both the mother and the baby. Positive benefits for mothers can be a reduction in cancers such as breast and ovarian. Risks for osteoporosis and anemia also decrease for the mom who breastfeeds.

Some of the benefits to infants from breastfeeding include:

  • improved immune function,
  • fewer respiratory and ear infections,
  • fewer allergies,
  • reduced risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS),
  • reduced risk for childhood cancer and diabetes,
  • reduced risk for obesity, and
  • reduced risk for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Human milk is the preferred feeding for all infants, including premature and sick newborns, with rare exceptions. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends human milk for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mutually desired. There is extensive published evidence for improved outcomes in breastfed infants and their mothers and hence a strong position on behalf of breastfeeding is justified, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Besides breastmilk’s nutritional benefits, breastfeeding enhances mother-infant bonding. Breastmilk enhances brain and nervous system development, which may improve IQ levels. Society will also benefit in many ways with healthier mothers and healthier babies as hopefully more support breastfeeding.

Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provide breastfeeding support to moms who would like to give their babies the best start. Women who participate in the WIC Program may be eligible to use electric pumps that help them continue to breastfeed when returning to work or school.

For more information about the benefits of breastfeeding babies, contact the county health department, clinic, or WIC office in your area

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