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Feds Encourage Breastfeeding to Help Reduce Health Care Costs


On Thursday, U.S. Surgeon-General Regina Benjamin issued a "call to action," urging everyone to "help make breastfeeding easier." While breastfeeding helps protect babies from illness and may protect mothers from breast and ovarian cancers, Benjamin also noted a study in the journal Pediatrics that estimates the United States could save $13 billion every year in health care costs if 90 percent of American babies were breastfed.

“I believe that we as a nation are beginning to see a shift in how we think and talk about breastfeeding,” said Dr. Benjamin. “With this ‘Call to Action,’ I am urging everyone to help make breastfeeding easier.”

So how can on "help" facilitate breastfeeding?  It turns out, it's a community effort.

The Surgeon-General is making the following recommendations, via CNSNews.com:

-- Communities should expand and improve programs that provide mother-to-mother support and peer counseling.

-- Health care systems should ensure that maternity care practices provide education and counseling on breastfeeding. Hospitals should become more “baby-friendly,” by taking steps like those recommended by the UNICEF/WHO’s Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (UNICEF and WHO are United Nations agencies).

-- Clinicians should be trained to properly care for breastfeeding mothers and babies. They should promote breastfeeding to their pregnant patients and make sure that mothers receive the best advice on how to breastfeed.

-- Employers should work toward establishing paid maternity leave and high-quality lactation support programs. Employers should expand the use of programs that allow nursing mothers to have their babies close by so they can feed them during the day. They should also provide women with break time and private space to express breast milk.

-- Families should give mothers the support and encouragement they need to breastfeed. Family members can help mothers prepare for breastfeeding and support their continued breastfeeding, including after her return to work or school.

“Many mothers who attempt to breastfeed say several factors impede their efforts, such as a lack of support at home; absence of family members who have experience with breastfeeding; a lack of breastfeeding information from health care clinicians; a lack of time and privacy to breastfeed or express milk at the workplace; and an inability to connect with other breastfeeding mothers in their communities,” the surgeon-general said.

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