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Tell Congress to Support WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Funding
The WIC population is at particular risk to not breastfeed and has traditionally had lower breastfeeding rates than the general population. This can be attributed to the additional barriers to breastfeeding that low- and moderate-income women face. Yet breastfeeding rates in the WIC population have increased significantly over the years with increased investment and emphasis on breastfeeding promotion and support. In 2010, 63.1% of WIC mothers initiated breastfeeding compared with 41.3% in 1998, and 21.2%-29.2% of WIC moms breastfed their babies for six months or more. Additionally, the gap between the breastfeeding rate in the WIC population and the general population has been closing: between 1998 and 2010 the gap shrunk from approximately 23 to about 14 percentage points.
Peer counselor support has been shown to be effective in improving breastfeeding initiation and duration rates in low-income women in WIC and in women overall. The evidence is clear that a small investment in WIC breastfeeding peer counselors provides a significant return. For all of these reasons, The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding; the Institute of Medicine report, Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention; and the National Prevention Strategy each call for the support and strengthening of breastfeeding peer support/counseling programs.
Yet in spite of this tremendous success and recognition, funding to support the WIC breastfeeding peer counseling program is in jeopardy. The House Appropriations Committee mark of the Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies Bill for FY 2014 does not contain vital set aside funding to continue the program.
That’s why we need YOUR help demonstrating support for the WIC breastfeeding peer counselor program. Help us urge key members of the House of Representatives to include $60 million for WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselors in the final FY 2014 Appropriations Bill, a level equal to funding provided in FY 2013.
There are three easy ways to take action:
- Tweet key Congressional targets: Click on the "Tweet now" links below to send customized Twitter messages to priority members of the House of Representatives. With Twitter, you don’t have to be limited to only your legislator: consider sending messages to legislators from several states in your region, or to those that are starred (Appropriations Committee members). Note: If you don't already have a Twitter account, the links will first walk you through easy account setup steps.
- E-mail your Representative: Use the National WIC Association's easy action tool to send a message to your Representative with just a few clicks.
- Visit your legislators while they are home "in district" during the August Congressional recess: The USBC, MomsRising, National Partnership for Women & Families, and National WIC Association hosted the "Action for the Summer Recess" webinar on August 8. Access the recording, slides, and toolkit materials to find everything you'll need to prepare for a visit with your legislator.
Customized Twitter Message Tool
Message 1: #Breastfeeding #PeerCounselors are a sound investment = saved health care dollars http://bit.ly/11KuyYr #NBM13
Message 2: Surgeon Gen says to strengthen programs that provide mother-2-mother support & #PeerCounselors http://1.usa.gov/O0SqkA #NBM13
Message 3: "My #PeerCounselors helped me achieve my #breastfeeding goals" http://bit.ly/14yaVqk #NBM13
 Anderson AK, Damio G, Young S, Chapman DJ, Perez-Escamilla R. A randomized trial assessing the efficacy of peer counseling on exclusive breastfeeding in a predominantly Latina low-income community. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005;159(9):836-841.
 Gross SM, Resnik AK, Cross-Barnet C, Nanda JP, Augustyn M, Paige DM. The differential impact of WIC peer counseling programs on breastfeeding initiation across the state of Maryland. J Hum Lact. 2009;25(4):435-443.
 Mickens AD, Modeste N, Montgomery S, Taylor M. Peer support and breastfeeding intentions among black WIC participants. J Hum Lact. 2009;25(2):157-162.
 Yun S, et al. Evaluation of the Missouri WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) breast-feeding peer counselling programme. Public Health Nutr. 2010;13(2):229-237.