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Campaign Aimed to Improve Breastfeeding rates in kansas

In 2011, Kansas ranked 42nd nationally when surveyed by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on their hospitals’ (statewide) efforts to encourage mothers to breastfeed.

Dr. Robert Moser, Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary stated “We have a lot of room for improvement,” on Thursday at the Kansas Health Summit on Breastfeeding. The event marked the start of a foundation-funded campaign to improve the state’s breastfeeding rates.

“We’re here to build a blueprint for how to change the culture in Kansas so that more moms and babies have the opportunity to breastfeed,” said Virginia Elliott, vice president for programs at the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund, a co-sponsor of the event. “We know (breastfeeding) is a healthier choice, but it’s just not the easy choice in this culture.”

According to the CDC, Kansas current breastfeeding rates under the national average; resulting in approximately 40 percent at six months and 23 percent at 12 months after birth. Studies also show only 11 percent of the state’s mothers “exclusively’ breastfeed after six months.

A few barriers include:

• A long-standing underestimation of the health benefits associated with breastfeeding.

• A shortage of readily available breastfeeding counselors.

• Hospital maternity wards that adhere to outdated care regimens.

• Health insurance policies that are overly restrictive.

• Easy access to formula.

• Formula companies’ marketing campaigns.

• Reluctance to breastfeed in public.

• Unfriendly work environments.

 

“Dollars invoke change” stated Dr. Todd Wolynn, a pediatrician and CEO at the National Breastfeeding Center in Pittsburgh  and the event’s keynote speaker, as he stressed the importance of assisting business leaders to recognize and acknowledge the benefits of breastfeeding. He further stated “I’m not here to demonize the industry…but let’s remember: Every mother who isn’t breastfeeding is an industry client.”

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