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Health Department Reminds Missourians of the “Gold Standard” for Infant Nutrition
JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services want Missourians to take note of the “gold standard” when it comes to infant nutrition. With the Olympics and Breastfeeding Month both in August, the Department is promoting breastfeeding as the Gold Standard for infant nutrition.
Ideally and as recommended by experts, babies should be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life and be provided appropriate complementary foods with continued breastfeeding for at least the first year of life.
Shanna Morgan, a registered nurse and coordinator for the state health department’s Breastfeeding Program said research shows that breastfeeding promotes a baby’s good health from birth and throughout life. Breastfed babies have fewer ailments such as diarrhea, ear infections, infections of the respiratory and urinary tracts, allergies and asthma. They are also less likely to develop childhood cancers and have a reduced risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
“In addition, babies who are breastfed exclusively for at least six months have a reduced risk of obesity later in life,” Ms. Morgan said.
Mothers benefit as well. Breastfeeding reduces postpartum bleeding, helps the mother return to her pre-pregnancy weight sooner and boosts her immune system. Women who breastfeed also have increased protection from breast, uterine and ovarian cancers and osteoporosis.
In order to get more moms to strive for this Gold Standard for their babies, they need support from family members, friends, health care providers and, most importantly, dads. In conjunction with the international World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action’s World Breastfeeding Week, Aug. 1-7, the state health department is establishing breastfeeding as the Gold Standard for mothers of newborns. Officials want to expand awareness of just how valuable support for a breastfeeding mother is.
The Health Department notes that just like the Olympic athletes who rely on the support of their trainers and fans to help them achieve their gold medals, officials say new moms need the Gold Standard in support. Whether that support comes in the form of health care providers giving them the information they need or friends and family helping them with their everyday chores so those mothers can give their babies the best start in life, they need to know everyone is supportive of their infants’ health.
More information about the benefits of breastfeeding can be found at www.dhss.mo.gov/breastfeeding
and www.worldbreastfeedingweek.org or by calling 1-800-877-6246.