My Links: Why Black Babies Need Breast Milk, Too
I wrote this for Loop21, where I am a political contributor.
August marks the second annual National Breastfeeding Month, and as Surgeon General Regina Benjamin calls on the nation to make a renewed effort in helping all mothers breastfeed their children, it’s worth it to look at where African Americans stand when it comes to feeding our children.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendsbreastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of life, with continued breastfeeding until at least the child’s first birthday; and the World Health Organization recommends that moms continue at least until their children turn 2-years-old. But we are falling far short of those guidelines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that just 26.6 percent of black moms make it to the six-month mark, compared to 41.7 percent of the total population. And only 11.7 percent are still going strong after a year, as opposed to 21 percent of all moms.
We sat down with Kimberly Seals Allers, founder of Black Breastfeeding 360º, to talk about what’s standing in the way of us breastfeeding our children, and how we can successfully remove the barriers.
Loop 21: Why is it important for black women to breastfeed?
Seals Allers: Every baby deserves the best infant nutrition possible. And in our community, the infant mortality rate is twice that of white babies, and the CDC says that disparity could be significantly decreased by increasing breastfeeding rates among black women. Also when you look at our infant health — the high incidence of ear infections, upper respiratory infections and asthma, and our high rates of childhood obesity — these are all health issues that breastfeeding can reduce the risk of.
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