The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) recognizes August as Breastfeeding Awareness Month, and encourages all Mississippians to learn more about the benefits of breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding has been shown to significantly decrease an infant's chances of developing a number of harmful conditions, including obesity, ear infections, respiratory infections, gastrointestinal infections, leukemia, diabetes and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Breastfeeding is also beneficial for mothers, reducing the likelihood of premenopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer and Type 2 Diabetes. Additional maternal benefits of breastfeeding include improving the mother and child bond and lessening the likelihood of infant abuse and neglect.
Improving breastfeeding rates is a national priority, according to the U.S. Surgeon General. Mississippi continues to have one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the nation, having ranked 50 th last year. This year saw marginal improvement, with the state moving to number 49, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's newly released national Breastfeeding Report Card. The report can be downloaded at http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/pdf/2011BreastfeedingReportCard.pdf
"While we have seen some improvement in breastfeeding rates, we still have a long way to go," said Amy Winter, Mississippi State Breastfeeding Coordinator. "MSDH and its partners must continue efforts to inform mothers and those who love them about the advantages of breastfeeding. Our mission is an important one, and we rely on the public to help us spread the word."
Winter said that recent changes in federal law are aimed at making it easier for women to choose breastfeeding. The Health Resources Service Administration recently announced that women's preventive services must be covered without a copayment, coinsurance or deductible by health plans provided by a network provider after August 1, 2012. Lactation services, including pumps, are covered by this policy.
For more information about breastfeeding, contact the MSDH Women, Infants and Children's special supplementary nutrition program (WIC) at 1-800-545-6747.
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