Louisiana Improves in Annual Federal Breastfeeding Rankings


Louisiana Improves in Annual Federal Breastfeeding Rankings, Improves Rate of Breastfeeding in Infants to more than Sixty Percent: Health Department Celebrates Improvement, Emphasizes Benefits to Moms, Babies During World Breastfeeding Month – DHH (click to see original article)

According to the Department of Health and Hospitals, Louisiana jumped four spots in the federal government’s latest breastfeeding report card, marking solid progress in the state’s support of breastfeeding. In total, more than 60 percent of infants in Louisiana have been breastfed at some point in their lives, up from 53 percent last year. This improvement, attributable to efforts by the DHH and its partners to promote breastfeeding, helped Louisiana move up to 44th on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2013 Breastfeeding Report Card, released this week.

The improvement coincides with World Breastfeeding Week, and DHH officials are reminding everyone that breastfeeding can contribute to the long-term health of women and their children. Gov. Bobby Jindal proclaimed August as World Breastfeeding Month in Louisiana as part of an international effort to raise awareness about the many benefits of breastfeeding and the important role that community plays in supporting breastfeeding.

The 2013 theme, “Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers,” focuses on Breastfeeding Peer Counseling. Even when mothers are able to get off to a good start, all too often in the weeks or months after delivery there is a sharp decline in breastfeeding rates, and practices, particularly exclusive breastfeeding.

The Peer Counseling Program provides an essential support system for mothers to help meet their breastfeeding goals and to maintain. Peer counselors provide a valuable service to their communities, addressing the barriers to breastfeeding by offering breastfeeding education, support and role modeling. They are mothers, many recruited by the Louisiana Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC), who have personal experience with breastfeeding and are trained to provide basic breastfeeding information and support to other mothers with whom they share various characteristics, such as language, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.

Louisiana’s rate of infants who are ever breastfed is 60.6 percent, compared to the national average rate of 76.5 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2013 Breastfeeding Report Card. Louisiana also has lower-than-national-average rates of infants who are exclusively breastfed at three months and six months, and lower rates of infants who continue breastfeeding through 12 months.