A formula for breastfeeding
Kudos to the Austin Medical Center Women’s Special Care Unit staff on their recent "Baby-Friendly" recognition from the World Health Organization's "Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative."
The medical center received the recognition because health providers take simple steps such as encouraging:
• breastfeeding within an hour of delivery,
• no food or drink for new babies other than breast milk unless medically necessary,
• avoidance of pacifiers,
• skin-to-skin contact between baby and Mom or Dad (after cesarean), to "helps stabilize the infants more quickly,"
• mother and baby to stay in the same room for 24 hours,
• and "breastfeeding on demand" (in other words, baby eats when baby's hungry).
I find Austin Medical Center's recognition particularly interesting in light of new research. In a Harvard/Boston Children's Hospital study, 847 babies were followed until age 3.
A total of 568 (67 percent) were breastfed and 279 (32 percent) got formula. Timing of first solid food "was not associated with odds of obesity" for breastfed infants.
But "among formula-fed infants, introduction of solid foods before 4 months was associated with a sixfold increase in odds of obesity at age 3 years," says an article in the journal Pediatrics .
Thus, it's important to avoid risk of obesity (at least during the toddler years) by either breastfeeding or avoiding solid food until age 4 months or older.
Just imagine if parents in general did this. The cost of obesity-related health care, one could easily assume, might decrease nationwide. Of course we've got to wait until more research is done to see if that's the case.
But the more we learn, the more I'm fascinated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publishes maps that show states where obesity is highest and where breastfeeding occurs most . I compared them and was surprised that those states with the highest obesity rates are generally the same ones with the lowest rates of breastfeeding.
Lowest rates of breastfeeding at age 6 months: Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia and South Carolina.
Highest rates of obesity in the country? Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Missouri and Alabama (the states in bold are those that made both lists).
So keep it up Women's Special Care Unit staff at Austin Medical Center. You must be doing something right.