Connecting for Breastfeeding Support Is Important

Contact: Kelly L. Niebel, (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

August 9, 2011

August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month in Michigan. The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) and local health departments across the state are reminding families of the benefits of breastfeeding and helping them get the lactation support they need.

Scientific and medical organizations worldwide recognize breastfeeding as a way to improve infant health and nutrition and maternal health, promote child development, and reduce health disparities. Breast milk provides a perfectly balanced diet for infants and naturally builds a healthy immune system to prevent illness.

During Breastfeeding Awareness Month the MDCH's Women, Infant, and Children's Program (WIC) is focusing its efforts on the breastfeeding education and support families receive, especially in today's world of electronic communication. Using the theme, "Breastfeeding Support: Stay Connected," health departments across the state are helping families use innovative ways to communicate with health professionals and online lactation support. By utilizing social media sites, blogs and websites, women can build strong networks of support to help them successfully breastfeed.

"Breastfeeding is one of the best things a mother can do for her baby," said Olga Dazzo, director of the MDCH. "With today's technology, families have more ways than ever to connect to the support systems that are so important for them and their baby."

In January, U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, MD, issued a Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, noting that while 75 percent of mothers start out breastfeeding, only 13 percent of babies are exclusively breastfed at the end of six months. In this unprecedented document, Dr. Benjamin outlines steps that can be taken to remove obstacles faced by women who want to breastfeed their babies.

In Michigan, 70 percent of babies begin life receiving breast milk, but only 10 percent are given the recommended exclusive breast milk feedings to six months. In December 2010 the MDCH hosted its first-ever Michigan Breastfeeding Summit to address this issue. Leaders from business, government, health care, and communities across the state gathered to learn more about how to help mothers overcome challenges and achieve their breastfeeding goals. WIC currently is working on its own call to action to support breastfeeding here in Michigan.

For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/wic or call your local health department.

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