Groups Tout Benefits of Breastfeeding

Topeka (WIBW) - Breastfeeding is best for babies.

It's a message health officials want to get out during this World Breastfeeding Week. Gov. Mark Parkinson even proclaimed it Breastfeeding Awareness Week in Kansas.

Certified Nurse Midwife Leslie Arnold says breastfeeding gives babies a head start on a healthy life. She says infants who are breast fed tend to have less asthma, food allergies are decreased and they spend significantly less time being sick. Plus, is promotes brain development.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively the first six months of life, complimented with other foods up to two years of age.

The latest Centers for Disease Control figures show most women start out breastfeeding. Nationally, 73.9 percent of babies born in 2006 had at least some breastfeeding. The figure for Kansas was 78.1 percent.

But by six months of age, only 43.4 percent of babies nationally (43.8 percent in Kansas) were still being breast fed. The number of babies being breast fed exclusively at six months was even lower, 13.6 percent nationally and 16.8 percent in Kansas.

Arnold believes support from places like Stormont-Vail's Breastfeeding Clinic could help change those numbers. She says she likes to talk to moms even before they give birth about breastfeeding so she can answer their questions and concerns.

She says those may include issues like feeling more comfortable breastfeeding in public and talking to their employers about accommodating pumping their breast milk when they go back to work. She says the clinic can also help with the challenges of breastfeeding itself, such as latching on and making sure baby is getting enough to eat.

The group World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action also is touting the role of nursing babies in disaster preparedness. In areas of contaminated water, for example, they say switching to formula is the wrong thing to do. Arnold says mixing contaminated water with formula puts babies at risk. She also says it's a myth that women cannot breastfeed during times of stress.

Arnold says even some breast milk is better than none. She says women who have challenges producing enough milk for their babies shouldn't give it up entirely. She says certain foods such as oatmeal and yeast are thought to stimulate breast milk production.

Arnold did acknowledge certain instances where breastfeeding is not recommended. Those include women who are HIV positive, taking certain medications, have had breast surgery or are undergoing cancer treatment.

Stormont's Breastfeeding Clinic is open from 10am til noon Monday thru Friday, and 9:30 to 10:30 am Saturday. It's on the fourth floor of the north tower. There is a small fee for babies who were not delivered at Stormont.


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