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FOR RELEASE: July 22, 2003
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Local Activities Planned to Encourage Mothers to Breastfeed
Celebrate World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program announced plans to join national efforts to increase the number of women who breastfeed. The theme of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7, is “Breastfeeding in a Globalized World”. The main goal is to improve maternal and infant health by increasing breastfeeding rates.

“We plan to think globally but act locally to provide information to encourage women to nurse their babies. Businesses and establishments that are baby friendly and encourage nursing in the workplace, on school campuses, and in public places, can go a long way to help remove the stigma of nursing from seeming unnatural back to being the most natural and nutritious way to feed infants,” said Dr. Leslie Beitsch, Oklahoma State Commissioner of Health.

Today, with the conveniences of pumping and storing human milk, mothers can go to work, school, shop, and carry on everyday activities without being confined to the home. Breastfeeding your baby can fit into a busy lifestyle.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends human milk for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mutually desired. In addition to human milk’s nutritional advantages, breastfeeding enhances mother-infant bonding, brain and nervous system development for babies, and may improve the baby’s IQ levels.

Human milk is the preferred feeding for all infants, including premature and sick newborns, with rare exceptions. Babies who do not receive human milk tend to have decreased immune functions, more respiratory and ear infections, increased allergies, and are at higher risk for diarrhea, constipation, colic, childhood cancer, diabetes, obesity, ulcerative colitis, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and Crohn’s disease.

WIC and County Health Department activities planned for World Breastfeeding Week include recognizing breastfeeding mothers and babies with special breastfeeding diaper bags. County health department staff will be visiting local physicians to thank them for their help and breastfeeding support. They will also provide breastfeeding information, posters, books, and promotional items to physicians, staff, and patients.

State activities include providing an educational video, “A Premie Needs His Mother, First Steps to Breastfeeding your Premature Infant,” to hospitals that give care to premature infants. The video emphasizes the importance of breastmilk for the premature infant and can be used as an educational tool for new mothers, physicians, nurses, and all providers caring for pre-term infants and mothers.

The WIC program provides support to moms who would like to breastfeed their babies. Women who participate in the WIC Program may be eligible to use electric breast pumps that help mothers continue to give their babies human milk when returning to work or school. For more information about breastfeeding, contact the county health department or WIC office in your area.

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