Those diseases include infections of the ear, stomach and respiratory tract, as well as, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), childhood leukemia, childhood asthma, diabetes, and obesity. In 2010, the cost savings from just three of the common childhood illnesses was estimated to be $3.6 billion a year if 50 percent of U.S. infants were fed only breastmilk for the first six months. For women, there is an increased risk in heart attacks, hypertension, breast cancer, premenopausal ovarian cancer and diabetes for those who breastfeed less than recommended. Many dollars could be saved from less disease and sickness as well as the lower level of premature deaths that might result when babies are breastfed.
Even though most expectant mothers may know that breastfeeding is important for their health and their baby’s, they may not truly understand all of the reasons to do it. Others may begin breastfeeding in the hospital, but quit after a few days or weeks. Some of the reasons include:
1. A lack of support from health care providers and from family 2. A need for the mother to return to school or work
3. Mixed messages about formula and early supplementation The good news is that breastfeeding has gained support from national and state health agencies. There are laws that require support for breastfeeding mothers in the workplace and policies that support breastfeeding in the hospital. Support is also needed to help mothers reach their own breastfeeding goals. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for the first year of life and beyond a year as long as mother and baby both desire.
The Arkansas Department of Health Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC) has staff who can teach women about breastfeeding and provide the support needed after mother and baby are home from the hospital. For more information, call the Arkansas WIC Breastfeeding Helpline at 1-800-445-6175 or post a question to the Facebook page at AR WIC breastfeeding