In his State of the City address, Mayor Dwight Jones announced he will be establishing a Breastfeeding Commission as a means for the city to promote breastfeeding and educate mothers on its benefits. The commission will author a document, to be completed by June 2012, which will include ideas to increase the number of women breastfeeding without formula for six or more months, strategies to eliminate ethnic and socio-economic disparities and to encourage breastfeeding, as well as sources to fund these goals.
With the establishment of the Breastfeeding Commission, Mayor Jones is highlighting the reality that the benefits of breastfeeding are far too important to ignore or disregard. The Academy of American Pediatrics lists the benefits for the babies,including prevention of asthma, obesity, diabetes, SIDS, gastrointestinal problems, and childhood leukemia (AAP, 2005). Mothers also benefit from quicker recovery after birth and breastfeeding has been associated with decreased risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and cardiovascular disease (Ip et al. 2007 and Schwarz et al. 2009).
In the recent Affordable Care Act, the national government also has jumped on the “breast is best” bandwagon. Under the ACA, new mothers have the right to reasonable break times and a private place to express milk. It covers employees in hourly positions, jobs that are often low-wage and those where too many, or too long, breaks may result in firing (PPACA 2010). This law benefits those new mothers who are poor, young, or do not have a college degree – moms who would stop breastfeeding early in order to go back to work. By recognizing that this demographic makes up much of the population of the city, Mayor Jones’s establishment of a breastfeeding committee furthers the goals of the ACA, and the Healthy People 2010 initiative. He also recognizes the economic benefits of breastfeeding: researchers estimate that if “80 percent of U.S. infants were breastfed exclusively for six months, health care expenditures would decline by $10.5 billion, and 741 annual infant deaths would be prevented” (Bartick and Reinhold 2010).
Richmond is made up of a large population of low-income or poverty-level mothers, as well as young mothers — two groups who historically are the least likely to breastfeed. In fact, the number of mothers living in Richmond who breastfeed for up to 6 months is below that of the entire state of Virginia. The state as whole isn’t much better, less than 45% of Virginia mothers breastfeed up to 6 months and only about 14% breastfeed exclusively for half a year (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Immunization Survey, Provisional Data, 2007 births. http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/data/NIS_data/index.htm). Jones’s Commission aims to bring that number to 75% or higher – a lofty goal, but if given the right support and attention, not necessarily an unattainable one (especially by 2020). And Mayor Jones has a long list of supporters that suggest that it’s not just our local government who are pro-breastfeeding.
Access the Breastfeeding Commisson in it’s entirety and the listing of those on the advisory panel here: http://richmondvirginiamayor.blogspot.com/2011/07/mayor-jones-breastfeeding-commission.html
AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics). 2005. “Policy Statement: Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk.” Pediatrics 115 (February): 496–506.
Bartick, Melissa, and Arnold Reinhold. 2010. “The Burden of Suboptimal Breastfeeding in the United States: A Pediatric Cost Analysis.” Pediatrics 125 (May): 1048-56.
CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). 2007. “Breastfeeding Trends and Updated National Health Objectives for Exclusive Breastfeeding—United States, Birth Years 2000–2004.” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 56 (August): 760-763.
Ip, Stanley, Mei Chung, Gowri Raman, et al. 2007. Breastfeeding and Infant and Maternal Health Outcomes in Developed Countries. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 153. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Schwarz, Eleanor B., Roberta M. Ray, Alison M. Stuebe, Matthew A. Allison, Roberta B. Newss, Matthew S. Freiberg, and Jane A. Cauley. 2009. “Duration of Lactation and Risk Factors for Maternal Cardiovascular Disease.” Obstetric Gynecology 113(5): 974–82.
(PPACA) Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 2010. H.R. 3590, 111th Congress. <http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_public_laws&docid=f:publ148.pdf>