Health Department Raises Awareness about Benefits of Breastfeeding during World Breastfeeding Week – August 1 through August 7

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BALTIMORE, MD (August 2, 2018) —Today, during World Breastfeeding Week, Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen joined staff at the Health Department’s Women, Infants & Children (WIC) Program to raise awareness of the importance of breastfeeding for healthy mothers and babies. The event included a community baby shower to celebrate pregnant WIC clients, and provide them with needed baby supplies and information about breastfeeding.

Baltimore’s B'more for Health Babies (BHB) initiative, a partnership led by the Health Department, together with the Family League, HealthCare Access Maryland, and over 150 public and private partners, brings together communities, organizations, and resources so that all babies and their parents have access to crucial health services and evidence-based information. Since BHB’s launch, the infant mortality rate dropped to its lowest point ever in Baltimore City, with a decrease of 35% between 2009 and 2016. The initiative has also reduced the disparity in infant mortality between African-American and white babies by almost 60% in that same time period.

“As a doctor and public health official, I know the science that shows breastfeeding is best for the mother and child,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “Breastfeeding provides baby’s first immunizations, prevents infections and wards off illnesses, reduces infant mortality and increases the emotional bond between mother and child. As a new mother, I also know how hard breastfeeding can be. All sectors of our society—government, hospitals, employers, and community organizations—must follow best medical practices to promote, encourage, and support breastfeeding, and improve the health and well-being of mothers and babies.”

Baltimore City WIC, a federally-funded program operated by the Baltimore City Health Department and Johns Hopkins for pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, infants, and children up to age five, served nearly 25,000 women, infants, and children at eight clinics during the last fiscal year. The Health Department’s WIC staff are trained to promote breastfeeding and to provide support to mothers and infants. As a result of WIC’s targeted efforts, incidence of breastfeeding is up to 57% among infants served at BCHD WIC facilities.

Breastfeeding in Baltimore City:

  • 71% of mothers in Baltimore City initiate breastfeeding, an increase of 25% since 2010;
  • The breastfeeding rate in Baltimore City (71%, 2016) remains lower than the national average: 81% (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016).
  • More than 1,200 pregnant women and mothers in the City’s prenatal and early childhood home visiting programs receive breastfeeding counseling and support one-on-one from nurses and paraprofessionals.

Benefits of Breastfeeding – (American Academy of Pediatrics):

  • Breast milk offers the perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat for a baby’s growth;
  • Breast milk contains antibodies that help babies fight off viruses and bacteria;
  • There is a better survival in the first year, including a lower risk for sleep-related infant death;
  • There is a lower risk for developing allergic diseases, asthma, obesity, and type 2 diabetes;
  • Breastfeeding helps mothers lose pregnancy weight faster;
  • Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months of a baby's life, followed by breastfeeding in combination with the introduction of complementary foods until at least 12 months of age, and continuation of breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby.

For more information about the Baltimore City Health Department’s Maternal and Child Health resources, visit https://health.baltimorecity.gov.

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