For Immediate Release
Events and Education Highlight National Breastfeeding Month
August is National Breastfeeding Month, and Aug. 1-7, 2012, is World Breastfeeding Week. The Springfield-Greene County Health Department’s Women, Infants & Children program is leading the way in regional efforts to promote this healthy practice. This includes not only everyday efforts, but also two key events during the month of August.
Keeping breastfeeding high on the public health agenda is critical to improving both local and global health. Research shows that infants who are exclusively breast-fed for the first six months of life are less likely to develop a wide range of chronic and acute diseases and conditions, including ear infections, diarrheal diseases, asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and respiratory illnesses. In addition, mothers who breastfeed are at a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancer, along with many other health benefits.
The global theme for this year’s World Breastfeeding Week is “The Road to Lifelong Health Begins With Breastfeeding.” The theme and global celebrations are coordinated by the International Lactation Consultants Association.
Locally, Springfield-Greene County WIC helps young mothers start down this road every day by offering support and education to pregnant and breastfeeding women at no cost to participants. The local WIC staff includes internationally board-certified lactation consultants (IBCLC), breastfeeding peer counselors and nutritionists. It has earned the “Breastfeeding Friendly WIC Clinic” designation from the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services based on factors including staff training requirements and support functions such as after-hours availability.
In recognition of World Breastfeeding Week, WIC staff will host an event to celebrate breastfeeding throughout generations of women and families. The event will take place from 1-3 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 8, in the classrooms at the main WIC location inside Jordan Valley Community Health Center, 440 E. Tampa St. This is a come-and-go event, and the media are invited to attend to speak with mothers and WIC staff.
On August 23 and 24, WIC will come together with Mercy, CoxHealth and Jordan Valley Community Health Center for the Community Collaborative Breastfeeding Conference. The conference is aimed at area healthcare providers including doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, lactation consultants and peer counselors. It is the first such gathering of its kind in Springfield, and represents a meaningful, communitywide effort on this important and sometimes needlessly controversial issue.
The keynote speaker is nationally known lactation expert Dr. Nancy Wight. Dr. Wight is a neonatologist at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women and Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego. She is the Medical Director at Sharp HealthCare Lactation Services, and is a past president of Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. Dr. Wight will be available for media interviews during her time in Springfield. Area healthcare professionals who are interested in attending the second day of the conference for a $10 registration fee should call (417) 851-1585 for more information.
The road to lifelong health is not one for mother and babies to travel alone. That is why WIC staff and other healthcare professionals in the area are working together to provide support and education not only to new mothers and fellow healthcare experts – but also to the community at large.
“A truly breastfeeding friendly community involves a commitment from all of us – families, health care providers, governments and employers,” says Julie Randolph, senior nutritionist and lactation consultant with WIC. “We are fortunate that the busy professionals from across the community’s healthcare landscape are able to take time to focus on this issue for a day or two, so that whole lifetimes can be positively affected going forward.”
In addition, look for breastfeeding messages and updates on Facebook (search: Springfield-Greene County WIC) all week, and keep an eye out for a new advertisement on the back of a CU bus.
For more information about these events, or to schedule an interview with one of WIC’s breastfeeding experts, contact: Mike Brothers, Public Information Administrator, (417) 874-1205.
About the Springfield-Greene County WIC clinic
The Women, Infants, and Children program is a supplemental nutrition and outreach program designed to improve the health of pregnant women, breastfeeding moms, infants, and children up to the age of five. WIC provides nutrition education, breastfeeding education and support, a supplemental food package, and referrals to health care providers and local agencies – all at no cost to the participant. In 2011, the clinic counted more than 90,000 visits by participants and put more than $7 million dollars into the local economy through vouchers for healthy grocery items for families. The program is a part of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, and is funded primarily by federal dollars.