AUGUST 03, 2011
In a case of the nanny state gone wild, the government agency charged with protecting health and preventing disease has issued federal, state and local directives to force hospitals across the country to promote breastfeeding. This is a human health crisis, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), because breastfeeding protects against childhood obesity, helps babies grow up healthy and reduces medical costs. The problem is that less than 4% of U.S. hospitals provide the “full range of support” mothers need to successfully breastfeed their baby, according to a report issued by the agency this week. That means they commit the sin of not having a “written, model breastfeeding policy” and most give “healthy breastfeeding infants” formula when it’s not medically necessary.
Additionally, only one-third of hospitals help mothers and babies learn to breastfeed in house and most don’t provide crucial follow-up visits or phone calls when women leave the hospital with their bundle of joy. Connecting mothers with support groups and other resources to help with breastfeeding after they leave the hospital is essential, according to the CDC.
So the agency has devised a crucial plan that includes federal, state and local government intervention as well as the collaboration of healthcare providers at facilities nationwide. The feds are to promote maternity care policies and practices that increase breastfeeding rates, track hospital policies and practices that support mothers to be able to breastfeed and help all federal hospitals implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.
State governments will set up statewide maternity care quality standards for hospitals to support breastfeeding and they will help hospitals implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breast feeding beginning with the largest facilities. Doctors and nurses will write hospital policies that help every mother breastfeed and they will learn how to counsel mothers on breastfeeding during prenatal visits. Lactation consultants and other breastfeeding experts will be added to patient care teams at all facilities. Hospitals will stop distributing formula samples to breastfeeding mothers and they will work with community organizations and healthcare providers to create networks that provide home or clinic-based breastfeeding support for every newborn. Those that don’t currently support breastfeeding will partner with “baby-friendly” hospitals to learn how to improve maternity care.
The CDC has embarked on this mission because it claims that low rates of breastfeeding add $2.2 billion a year to medical costs. Formula-fed babies have higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and respiratory and ear infections and tend to require more doctor visits, hospitalizations and prescriptions. Changing hospital practices to better support mothers and babies can improve these rates.
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