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DPHHS promotes the importance of breastfeeding


August 1, 2016

Contact:  Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936

                Chuck Council, Communications Specialist, DPHHS, (406) 444-4391


DPHHS promotes the importance of breastfeeding

August 1 -7 is World Breastfeeding Week


Officials with the Department of Public Health and Human Services said this week the rate at which Montana mothers initiate breastfeeding in the early stages of their child’s life is one of the best in the nation.

According to a recent report, 91.2 % of Montana moms report initiating breastfeeding, which is fourth highest in the U.S. The national average is 79.2 %.

“Montana mothers recognize the important health benefits to breastfeeding, the challenge is to provide them the needed support and resources to enable them to meet their goals beyond initiation,” said Kate Girard of the state’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).

August 1 – 7 is designated as World Breastfeeding Week.  

Girard says breastfeeding provides a long list of health benefits to both mom and baby, including:

  • Breastfeeding protects babies from infections and illnesses that include diarrheal diseases, ear infections and pneumonia.
  • Breastfed babies are less likely to develop asthma.
  • Children who are breastfed for six months are less likely to become obese.
  • Breastfeeding promotes good jaw and tooth development.
  • Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Breastfeeding promotes a close mother-baby bond.
  • Mothers who breastfeed have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months and continued breastfeeding to at least one year with complimentary foods.Girard said Montana follows a national trend of lower breastfeeding rates as the child ages. At three months of age, 53% of Montana children are breastfed, which is still well above the national average of 40.7 %. 

Breastfeeding rates among WIC participants follow a similar trend of 76 % of WIC participants who initiate breastfeeding, before seeing a decline to 23% fully breastfeeding at three months.

“While we still have work to do, we are making progress on increasing breastfeeding in our state,” she said. “This week is an excellent opportunity to celebrate Montana’s excellent progress on this very important issue.” 

WIC and the DPHHS Nutrition and Physical Activity Program (NAPA) are working hard to promote breastfeeding in Montana. NAPA has been working with hospitals and birthing centers that deliver babies who are interested in becoming a Baby Friendly Hospital.  The initiative recognizes birthing facilities who successfully implement the Ten Steps to Breastfeeding and the International Code of Marketing Breast-milk Substitutes. Two hospitals became Baby Friendly without NAPA’s assistance. Three other hospitals recently were designated Baby Friendly. There are nine more birthing facilities who are in the process.

For information about breastfeeding in MT, go to http://dphhs.mt.gov/publichealth/WIC.aspx

Health in the 406 - Focus on Breastfeeding