August Proclaimed Breastfeeding Promotion Month In Vermont

For Immediate Release: August 3, 2005

Contact: Communication Office

BURLINGTON – Governor Jim Douglas has declared August as Vermont Breastfeeding Month in an effort to remind Vermonters that breast milk provides optimal nutrition, enhances brain development and boosts the immune system of both mother and child.

Breast milk is a perfect food that provides the best nutritional start and protects the infant from the beginning - and throughout their life, according to Health Commissioner Paul Jarris, MD, MBA.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all babies be breastfed for the first full year of life,” Dr. Jarris said. “Unlike formula, it is both a natural and a complete form of infant nutrition and provides antibodies that protect infants and helps fight off infection and disease.”

The National Survey for Children’s Health found that 81 percent of Vermont mothers have breastfed their infant - compared to a national rate of 72 percent. Vermont already exceeds the national goal established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to increase breastfeeding to 75 percent by 2010.

Continuation rates of breastfeeding for babies fall significantly after six months, down to a state average of 33 percent. Understanding that babies benefit from breastfeeding through the first six months and beyond is important to increasing breastfeeding duration. Formula fed infants are at a higher risk of infections and upper respiratory diseases and are more likely to develop several chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, asthma and other allergies.

Health department offices across the state will recognize the month through promotion of peer support programs, recognition of breastfeeding friendly work places, and a variety of initiatives designed to increase public acceptance of breastfeeding.

Contact your local health department district office to learn more about the activities in your area.