Breastfeeding and early care and education : increasing support for breastfeeding families
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Breastfeeding and early care and education : increasing support for breastfeeding families

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      Obesity rates among children aged 2 to 5 years approximately doubled between 1976–1980 and 2009–2010. With an estimated 12.1% of children

      Breastfeding helps protect children against obesity, among other important health benefits. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months and continued breastfeeding for at least the first year as foods are introduced. Unfortunately, in 2009 only 47% of mothers breastfed at six months and 26% at 12 months of age.

      One factor affecting breastfeeding duration is that many mothers are away from their children during the day and may not receive the support they need to continue breastfeeding. In 2007, 60% of women with children under age 3 were in the labor force. As a result, many children are cared for by persons other than their parents.

      Early care and education (ECE) providers and teachers influence the lives and health of the families they serve and have an important role in supporting breastfeeding mothers. ECE programs, centers and family homes alike can support breastfeeding mothers by ensuring that staff members are well- trained to meet national recommendations for supporting breastfeeding mothers. Support may include allowing mothers to breastfeed at the facility, feeding a mother’s pumped breast milk to her baby, thawing and preparing bottles of pumped milk as needed and keeping extra breast milk in a freezer in case they run out.

      As of December 2011, only 6 states’ licensing regulations contained language that meets national recommendations for encouraging and supporting breastfeeding and the feeding of breast milk (AZ, CA, DE, MS, NC, VT).

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