Benefits to the Baby
Scientific research overwhelming indicates that breastfeeding is the superior method of infant feeding. These benefits include:
- Nutritionally complete food, tailored to the individual baby.
- Fewer and less severe allergies.
- Fewer ear infections.
- Fewer respiratory illnesses.
- Less diarrhea and throwing up.
- Decreased risk of meningitis.
- Decreased risk of H. Flu.
- Decreased risk of Insulin dependent diabetes.
- Decreased risk of lymphoma (a type of childhood cancer).
- Decrease in risk of hospitalization for bacterial infections.
- Decreased medical complications in premature infants.
- Protective effect against sudden infant death syndrome, Chron's disease, ulcerative colitis, lymphoma, urinary tract infection, early childhood caries, and inflammatory bowel disease.
- Reduced chance of obesity later in life.
- Increased intellectual development.
Benefits to the Mother & Family
- Helps the uterus to contract more quickly after delivery.
- Reduces the risk for developing premenopausal breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer.
- Easier for the mother to lose pregnancy weight and maintain desirable weight.
- Naturally relaxing effect on the mother due to hormones released while breastfeeding.
- Breastmilk is ready to feed, involves no preparation.
- Easy to transport.
Benefits to Society
- Environmentally friendly.
- Decreased health costs due to decreased illness among infants.
- Beneficial to employers of working mothers: less absence due to illness, decreased insurance claims, improved morale and loyalty.
Many studies conducted in industrial countries have demonstrated the economic benefits of breastfeeding, both to the individual families in terms of purchases related to infant feeding and to society in terms of lowering medical costs.
Breastfeeding promotion efforts in the State, includes the passage of a law allowing women to breastfeed in public, annual recognition of the role of breastfeeding through an annual Governor's proclamation, and the tireless efforts of numerous public and private health care providers. However, the impact on duration (breastfeeding at least 6 months, but preferably 12 months) has been smaller. Reasons given by mothers include, difficulties breastfeeding, lack of social support, embarrassment and returning to work or school.
In FY 2004 and 2005, the Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) regional offices hosted the following trainings: “Using Loving Support to Manage Peer Counseling Programs” and “Loving Support Through Peer Counseling” for both State level WIC Program management staff and WIC staff involved in training peer counselors. The trainings provided basic guidance for developing or enhancing a peer counseling program based on model components of successful programs and evidence-based research. FNS felt that by combining peer counseling with the on-going breastfeeding promotion efforts in WIC agencies the potential to impact breastfeeding rates among WIC participants would significantly increase the harder to achieve breastfeeding duration rates.
In FY 2005 eight Georgia districts implemented the Loving Support Through Peer Counseling program. Currently, there are 35 peer counselors and beginning in January, 2010 there will be 103 peer counselors and eight new districts! FNS’ long-range vision is to institutionalize peer counseling as a core service in WIC.