For Immediate Release: Aug. 6, 2008
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
BURLINGTON – Elizabeth Curran can hardly remember a time when she was not breastfeeding one of her seven children, including exclusively breastfeeding her last six children for the first two years of their life – a marathon of feedings that has lasted more than a decade.
Curran would not have raised her children any other way.
“Breastfeeding is always there, always ready and available, it is free, always the right temperature, and you never run out,” said Curran, 38, of Whiting, Vt. “I tell women, with infant formula you have bottles to wash and sterilize, you have to make sure you have it with you, and then there is the cost. Formula is expensive.”
Curran, who works part-time as a WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor for the Vermont Department of Health, is helping to celebrate the 2008 World Breastfeeding Week, Aug. 1 – 7, at the Maternal Child Health Infant Comfort Station at the Addison County Fair.
Curran is an ambassador for the week as "Breastmilk: Going for the Gold" is celebrated in Vermont by passing a large golden bow among various breastfeeding coalitions around the state.
Exclusive breastfeeding has a strong protective effect against lower respiratory tract infections, middle ear infections, eczema and childhood obesity. 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.
“Vermont encourages breastfeeding in any location and as a state we prohibit breastfeeding discrimination,” said Health Commissioner Wendy Davis, MD. “We strongly encourage women to breastfeed their babies as soon as possible after birth, and exclusively for at least the first six months of a newborn's life.”
Breast milk is good for a baby’s developing brain and newborns typically nurse eight to 12 times in a 24-hour period. Early, frequent feedings of breastmilk provide a healthy start, both physically and emotionally for infants.
The Health Department also encourages women to breastfeed their babies within the first hour after delivery. The percentage of Vermont mothers who have ever breastfed their infant (85 percent) far exceeds the national rate (74 percent), according to the 2008 Health Status of Vermonters report, and exceeds the national goal established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to increase breastfeeding to 75 percent by 2010.
“I consistently talk to women who don’t think they have enough milk to nurse a baby for longer than a year or even six months, and they go to formula,” Curran said. “I tell them they have to be patient, a baby will go through a growth spurt and need more milk, and if you give it a couple of days your body will catch up and generate more milk. You have to hang in there.”
For more information on the benefits of breastfeeding and local resources for nursing mothers, visit the Vermont Department of Health website: healthvermont.gov.