State Health Department Launches Breastfeeding Campaign

Statewide Media Ads Encourage Mothers to Breastfeed Their Babies

Albany, N.Y. (Sept. 9, 2010) - The New York State Department of Health (DOH) today launched a $1.6 million public health education campaign to encourage mothers to breastfeed their babies and to educate them about the health benefits of breastfeeding.

The campaign,"Breastfeeding…For my Baby. For Me." features TV spots, online ads, and ads on buses and bus shelters statewide. The campaign is funded by an award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in recognition that New York's Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program is one of 10 in the nation with the highest breastfeeding rates.

USDA Food and Nutrition Service Northeast Regional Administrator James C. Arena-DeRosa praised New York's DOH-administered WIC program for using the award to further promote and support breastfeeding across the State. "It's admirable that New York State WIC took this opportunity to continue to build upon its successes in promoting breastfeeding and that it continues to provide the information and support WIC mothers and their families need to successfully breastfeed."

The campaign, which will run through the end of October, reaches out to new and expectant mothers, primarily in lower-income areas. The campaign addresses the support that breastfeeding mothers need from family, employers, health care providers, and the community and describes the many benefits for mothers and their babies.

"We recognize the tremendous health benefits that breastfed infants enjoy and how important it is to increase the number of infants who are breastfed," said State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. "Breastfed infants are at reduced risk for asthma, obesity, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses throughout their lifetimes."

"The evidence is clear: being breastfed is important to the lifelong health of infants," said Patricia Hess, director of the NYS DOH Division of Nutrition, which administers the WIC program in New York State. "We encourage new mothers to breastfeed their newborns and to continue to breastfeed after they return to work."

Breastfeeding promotion and support is a priority for the WIC Program, which offers breastfeeding-friendly WIC clinics staffed with trained breastfeeding coordinators. The program encourages exclusive breastfeeding with an enhanced food package of greater value for breastfeeding mothers. WIC provides mother-to-mother support through its peer counselor program and offers a web site devoted to breastfeeding mothers at www.breastfeedingpartners.org .

Physicians recommend that mothers exclusively breastfeed for the first six months and continue to breastfeed beyond 12 months. For most women, breastfeeding is the safest and healthiest choice, as breast milk contains the recommended amount of nutrients and changes to meet baby's growing needs.

Research shows that breastfed babies have higher IQs, stronger immune systems, and a lower risk of certain types of childhood cancers, allergies, and respiratory and gastrointestinal ailments.

Breastfeeding also has benefits for the new mother and has been shown to:

  • Help the mother's body recover from pregnancy and labor by shrinking her uterus back to size and reducing any bleeding after childbirth.
  • Burn about 500 calories a day, so mothers more easily lose the weight gained during pregnancy.
  • Lower the risk of ovarian cancer and some forms of breast cancer.
  • Strengthen bones, helping to protect mothers against osteoporosis later in life.
  • Protect against Type 2 diabetes.
  • Help ward off depression.
  • Save time and money. Unlike formula, breast milk is always the right temperature and requires no bottles to wash and sterilize.

Information on breastfeeding can be obtained by calling the Growing up Healthy Hotline at 1-800-522-5006 or on the DOH Web site at www.nyhealth.gov/breastfeeding.