The Benefits of Breastfeeding Essay

The Benefits of Breastfeeding Essay

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Identified by the Surgeon General as “one of the most highly effective preventive measures a mother can take to protect the health of her infant and herself,” breastfeeding has begun to take form as more of a public health issue than lifestyle choice.1 There is substantial evidence suggesting breastfed infants have decreased risk of infections, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), celiac disease, childhood inflammatory bowel disease, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), asthma, eczema, obesity, type I diabetes mellitus, and leukemia.2,3 Although cognitive development comparisons of formula-fed versus breastfed children have largely been inconclusive, a 2007 study found breastfed children scored 5.9 IQ points higher than their counterparts.4 Another report proposed better neurodevelopmental outcomes in pre-term infants.2 Breastfeeding has also been shown to confer moderate health benefits for mothers including: more rapid uterine involution, decreased post-partum bleeding, decreased risk of post-partum depression, increased post-partum weight loss, and delayed ovulation.3,4 The maternal protections extend further, decreasing the risk of reproductive cancers, type II diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular disease.4
Moreover, breastfeeding can offer economic protections at both the individual and national level. The federally-funded Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which provides food, healthcare, and nutrition education resources to low-income pregnant women and mothers, spent nearly 32% of their budget on formula rebates in 2008.5 Examining the costs of WIC food packages, exclusive formula feeding is responsible for 70% of the total cost, totaling nearly $80 million dollars per month.6 A co...


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...students should be confident in their capability to communicate the benefits of breastfeeding to mothers, address feasibility concerns, and troubleshoot lactation issues. By and large, the most commonly reported barrier to breastfeeding counseling is inadequate training.24 Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) Physician Assistant program’s breastfeeding curriculum was implemented in 2011 and is comprised of an online breastfeeding curriculum and a three-hour lactation consultant shadowing experience. A 2013 assessment proposed that the established web-based and experiential learning improved student perceptions of breastfeeding knowledge and skill, but, as other studies have suggested, these perceptions may be misleading as indicators of long-term capabilities.23,25 The current curriculum has not yet been evaluated in its ability to prepare students for lasting success.

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