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Build a Brighter Future by Supporting Breastfeeding

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is promoting World Breastfeeding Week August 1–7 with the theme Breastfeeding: Building a Brighter Future. This year’s theme focuses on how breastfeeding today can impact the future health of families and the environment for generations to come. The benefits of breastfeeding extend through infancy and childhood and even into adulthood. Studies have shown that breastfeeding provides children with the nutrients they need to help with development and to build a strong immune system. Breastfeeding not only provides ideal nutrition for babies but also has long-lasting positive effects for mothers.
 
Based on the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) data from 2013, 82.7 percent of Oklahoma mothers began breastfeeding their babies after birth. While most new mothers start out breastfeeding, many Oklahoma mothers do not exclusively breastfeed for six months or continue for up to two years of age as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
 
Data provided in The Oklahoma Toddler Survey (TOTS) from 2014 indicates that although the numbers are improving, only 34 percent of mothers were breastfeeding at six months and 17 percent of mothers were breastfeeding at 12 months or more. This does not meet the Healthy People 2020 Breastfeeding Objectives aimed to increase the proportion of infants who are breastfed at six months to 60.6 percent and at one year to 34.1 percent.
 
“Breastfeeding not only provides nutrition for the baby but has long-lasting positive effects for the mother as well,” says Rosanne Smith, breastfeeding coordinator, Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Service. “By supporting mothers throughout their breastfeeding journey, each of us has the opportunity to build a brighter future leading to healthier kids and healthier families.”
 
The recently published Lancet Breastfeeding Series review shows evidence of the health and economic benefits of breastfeeding. Children who are breastfed have decreased infections, lower dental malocclusions and higher intelligence when compared to children who are not breastfed. Mothers who breastfeed have a decreased chance of breast cancer, improved birth spacing and also have less risk of developing diabetes and ovarian cancer.
 
Local health department clinics will be providing various activities to recognize and encourage breastfeeding mothers and also to teach expectant women, family members and the community the importance of breastfeeding, and how this practice can lead to a healthier tomorrow.
 
For breastfeeding support and information, call the Oklahoma Breastfeeding Hotline toll free at 1-877-271-MILK (6455) or visit the Oklahoma breastfeeding website at http://bis.health.ok.gov.
 
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