New York State Department of Health Announces $7.2 Million to Promote, Protect and Support Breastfeeding

Funding Supports the Creation of Breastfeeding Friendly Communities Statewide

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 21, 2016) - The New York State Department of Health today announced that it will award $7.2 million to six organizations over the next five years to establish Breastfeeding Friendly community support networks for families from pregnancy through infancy to increase breastfeeding initiation, exclusivity and duration. The funded entities will advance broad-based policy, system and environmental changes that protect and promote breastfeeding within community settings and businesses. They will also work to help child care and healthcare providers support families who opt to breastfeed.

At the same time, Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker issued a Call to Action, urging all healthcare providers in the state to take specific steps that promote and support exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Among other suggestions, he called on providers to discuss the benefits of breastfeeding with patients, ensure patients have access to lactation counseling, work with local health departments to encourage community-based support for breastfeeding and inform women of their right to breastfeed at places of employment.

Breastfeeding has proven health benefits for both the mother and the baby. It decreases the rate of infections during infancy. It also reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and necrotizing enterocolitis, a very serious intestinal illness in premature infants. In addition, breastfeeding reduces the risk of chronic diseases, including asthma, diabetes and obesity. Among women, breastfeeding reduces postpartum bleeding and lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancers, and type 2 diabetes.

"The creation of coordinated community networks to promote, protect and support breastfeeding will ensure that all women receive high-quality lactation education and support across the continuum of care," Dr. Zucker said. "All clinical and community providers play a crucial role in encouraging women to exclusively breastfeed.The initiative also provides important support for families. A woman with a partner who supports breastfeeding plays a critical role in how much and how long a woman breastfeeds. We want to make exclusive breastfeeding the norm, not the exception, in New York State."

Exclusive breastfeeding is a New York State public health priority as well as a national one. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, and World Health Organization recommend exclusive breastfeeding for six months, followed by continued breastfeeding for one year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant.

Employers, child care staff, and healthcare providers (obstetricians, family physicians and pediatricians) all have a key role in providing positive breastfeeding messages and improving breastfeeding support services during pregnancy and after birth. Mothers need accurate information to make an informed choice about breastfeeding during pregnancy, as well as lactation support immediately after delivery, during the birth hospitalization and after discharge from the hospital.

The recipients of the six grants serve communities with higher than average rates of poverty and obesity, which tend to be associated with lower rates of exclusive breastfeeding. This funding will create or expand community-based breastfeeding coalitions, and help increase the number of healthcare practices, child care centers and day care homes that achieve the NYS Breastfeeding Friendly Practice designation; the number of worksites that provide accommodations for breastfeeding employees; and the number of Baby Cafés© where breastfeeding women receive a combination of expert and social support.

The organizations receiving awards are:

Organization Counties or Boroughs to be served Funded Amount
Clinton County Health Department Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Warren and Washington $1,200,000
Fund for Public Health in New York, Inc. Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn $1,200,000
Long Island Jewish Medical Center Suffolk and Nassau $1,200,000
Rockland County Department of Health Rockland $1,200,000
Seton Health Foundation, Inc. Albany, Rensselaer and Schenectady $1,200,000
University of Rochester Monroe $1,199,345

For additional information on breastfeeding promotion and support, breastfeeding friendly health care practices and breastfeeding friendly child care centers and homes, visit: