Human milk is the optimal, species-specific food for human babies, and it plays a critical role in building and supporting a young child's immune system. A recent CDC study found that breastfeeding initiation reduced the risk of post-perinatal infant deaths (between 7-364 days) by 26 percent! Feeding babies human milk saves lives and healthcare dollars across the lifespan, and legislation and programmatic support for lactation support, supplies, and accommodations represent a powerful, wise, and humane investment in public health.
For babies, human milk feeding reduces the risk of:
Babies typically require 8 to 12 feedings a day, and ready access to nutrition is critical to their survival. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants be exclusively breastfed for six months with continued breastfeeding while introducing complementary foods for as long as mutually desired by baby and parent for two years or beyond.
A robust infant feeding infrastructure includes comprehensive lactation support in all policies, systems, and environments where babies and parents interact, as well as safe and equitable access to donor milk and breast milk substitutes (including commercially manufactured infant formula and specialty formulas). Without that infrastructure, many are forced onto painful, difficult, and sub-optimal paths of infant feeding and care. This infrastructure is especially critical during emergencies, including natural disasters, war and violence, supply chain interruptions, pandemics, and beyond.
With so many barriers standing in the way of human milk feeding in the U.S., many families are denied the opportunity of full choice as to how to feed their babies. But it doesn't have to be that way! The U.S. Breastfeeding Committee and our network of members, partners, and supporters are working hard to remove the policy, system, and environmental barriers that stand in families' way. Join us in our efforts to realize our vision of thriving families and communities!
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