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Breastfeeding and the Children and Families Commission

"A society which does not put its women and children at the forefront of consciousness and commitment is a society without a future."
Robert A. Heinlein

"Low breastfeeding rates are a serious public health challenge, particularly in certain minority communities. With scientific evidence indicating that breastfeeding can play an important role in an infant's health, the time has come for us to work together to promote optimal breastfeeding practices."
David Satcher MD, US Surgeon General & Assistant Secretary for Health

Strategic Plan/Priority Results:

Children are born healthy: Breastfeeding (through lactational amenorrhea) is nature's way of providing optimal child spacing, thereby improving the chances for a healthy pregnancy and healthy, full term infant. Promoting and supporting breastfeeding can help reduce unwanted pregnancies. Learning about breastfeeding includes learning about nutrition, childcare, health and a woman's own body - all of which contribute to a healthier family.

Children remain healthy: Research has confirmed that breastfed infants have fewer infections, less chronic diseases, less need for hospitalizations, medications and other healthcare resources. The components of breastmilk have been shown to both fight infection directly and to play a role in the development and modulation of the human immune system - with lifelong impact! Breastfeeding is a healthcare issue, not just a lifestyle choice.

Children are learning: Breastmilk and breastfeeding ensure that children are ready to learn by providing the optimal mixture of nutritional factors and growth hormones to enhance cognitive development during the most critical period in brain development - the first 3 years of life. Breastmilk changes over time to meet the changing needs of the developing infant and child. Research suggests that both IQ and vision are enhanced in breastfed children. The increased mother-infant contact during breastfeeding is a first source of important cooperative learning.

Children are in safe and supportive environments: Children breastfed for any significant time are very unlikely to be abused or neglected. The special bonding and repeated close contact that takes place with breastfeeding increases a mother's confidence and competency in caring for and protecting her child. Research has shown that low income teen mothers who breastfeed have a more mature response to their infant's cry and more self-confidence and achievement.

Children are in optimal physical environments, including tobacco-free: What safer, better place for an infant than warm, protected and nourished at her mother's breast? Statistically, women who breastfeed are less likely to smoke. If they do smoke, the breastmilk tends to counteract some of the harmful effects of secondhand smoke (reduces respiratory infections) on the infant. The San Diego County Children and Families commission has the ability and opportunity to improve outcomes for infants, children, families and our community by promoting breastfeeding in its focus on parent education/family support, childcare and wellness.


Dept. Health and Human Services, Office on Women's health, HHS Blueprint for Action on Breastfeeding, October 2000, and

Breastfeeding: Investing in California's Future. California Breastfeeding Promotion Committee Report to the California Department of Health Services Primary Care and Family Health, January 1997

American Academy of Pediatrics, Work group on Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk. Pediatrics 1997; 100(6):1035-1039

Healthy People 2000: National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Publications No. (DHS) 91-50213, 1991

Cunningham AS. Breastfeeding: Adaptive Behavior for Child Health and Longevity, in Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives. Stuart-Macadam P , Dettwyler KA, eds, Aldine de Gruyter, New York, NY, 1995


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