Statement from Patty Hayes, Director of Public Health—Seattle & King County, responding to news that the United States government (Dept. of Health & Human Services) aggressively attempted to water down international support for breastfeeding through the World Health Organization (W.H.O.).
“The notion that any national or international health agency would not completely support breastfeeding is truly shocking. Breastfeeding is broadly endorsed by both the medical community and nutrition community – and for very good reasons. Decades of research have demonstrated benefits such as:
- Breast milk supplies antibodies, which lowers the risk of many illnesses
- Breastfed infants have fewer respiratory infections, fewer diarrheal diseases, half as many ear infections
- Breast milk is easily digested and supplies the ideal nutrition
- Breastfed babies tend to gain the ideal amount of weight
- And for the mother, breastfeeding lowers the risk of ovarian and breast cancer and for Type 2 diabetes
“And the research suggests that breastfeeding is linked to prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, higher IQ scores, and lower risk of diabetes and asthma.
“The list of benefits is even longer. The health dividends translate into an estimated economic savings totaling more than $13 billion per year nationally, if we reach a 90% rate of breastfeeding.
“In King County and Washington state, we are proud to have one of the highest rates in America of infants who are exclusively breastfed at 6 months, at 28%. Across our local health systems, we continue to increase breastfeeding participation. We now have 13 hospitals and birthing centers that have earned the W.H.O. designation of “Baby Friendly” for their commitment. I’m particularly proud of the 19 Public Health—Seattle & King County employees who earned designation as internationally board-certified lactation consultants.
“I’m horrified to imagine the implications for the health of millions of babies and their mothers globally if we in any way weaken or undermine the support for breastfeeding. To echo the words of the American Academy of Pediatrics, ‘Breastfeeding and human milk are the normative standard for infant feeding and nutrition.’”
(originally published on 7/16/18)