FLORENCE, AZ - Research is clear that breastfeeding is the gold standard in infant feeding, providing both nutritional and health advantages that last far beyond infancy. Nearly all women are able to breastfeed when they receive consistent and accurate information, and are supported by healthcare providers, family and their community.
World Breastfeeding Week, August 1 through 7, aims to highlight the importance of providing support for breastfeeding families. The national theme this year is Mother Support: Going for the Gold - Everyone Wins When Babies Breastfeed.
The national campaign calls on health professionals, employers and families, and communities to provide a breastfeeding-friendly environment that helps new mothers reach their breastfeeding goals.
Nearly all medical and health advocacy organizations worldwide emphasize the importance of breastfeeding and the role of support for new mothers.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, recently published a comprehensive analysis of studies on the impact of breastfeeding in developed countries. The study, published in 2007, concluded that breastfeeding has a profound impact on both infant and maternal health. The health benefits included reducing the risk of acute otitis media (ear infections), non-specific gastroenteritis, severe lower respiratory tract infections, atopic dermatitis, asthma, obesity, type 1 and 2 diabetes, childhood leukemia, and sudden infant death syndrome in the child. Benefits to the mother include decreased risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and type 2 diabetes. (Learn more at <http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/tp/brfouttp.htm> http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/tp/brfouttp.htm.)
The World Health Organization recommends that women breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of an infant's life "to achieve optimal growth, development and health." Thereafter, infants should be given "safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond." (Learn more at <http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/infantfeeding_recommendation/en/index.html> http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/infantfeeding_recommendation/en/index.html)
The Pinal County Health District administers the state's federally-funded Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. Through this program, Pinal County provides qualifying residents with nutritious foods, nutrition education and referrals. WIC serves pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women and infants and children who meet WIC state and federal eligibility guidelines. The County also offers its WIC clients a breastfeeding program featuring on-call support, breastfeeding supplies and has trained staff to help women be successful in their choice to breastfeed.
Pinal County holds free monthly breastfeeding classes for all pregnant women residing in the county. If you would like information about the WIC and breastfeeding programs, please contact your local WIC office or Diane Medina, CLC, Breastfeeding Coordinator at 520-866-7291.
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