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Invest in the future: Breastfeed your baby

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This relatively easy task will pay forward for many years to come. For the mom, it is a convenient and cheap way to nourish your child. Breastfeeding causes secretions of hormones, which give a feeling of happiness and well being and strengthens bonding; promotes a quick return to pre-pregnancy weight; and lowers the risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes and even cardiovascular disease throughout life.

For the baby, it provides antibodies and other antimicrobial molecules to fight infection such as flu and gastroenteritis, both common causes of hospital admission for bottle fed infants. Breastfeeding also provides important nutrients for optimal brain growth and development - research shows breastfed babies have an IQ a few points higher than those bottle fed; prevents excessive weight gain and later development of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Feeding premature infants human milk has improved survival rates dramatically.

Science has now proven what nature knew all along - human milk is best for human babies!

So why is the state of Kentucky, together with Mississippi and Louisiana, at the bottom of the ladder for both initiating and continuing breast feeding? Fifty-three percent of Kentucky moms initiate breastfeeding and only 28 percent continue past three months.

The LCDHD wants to help you successfully breastfeed your infant. Through "Peer Counselors," a new program starting next month, a breastfeeding coordinator and peer counselors will be available to help you get started, support you throughout, and aid in solving problems. It will provide one-on-one support to breastfeeding mothers.

In addition, Ann Stevens is the regional breastfeeding coordinator. Contact her at (606) 787-6911. She can work with local physicians and other community members on promotion and education.

For more information on breastfeeding consult chfs.ky.gov/dph/mch/ns/breastfeeding.htm or contact your local health department at 465-4191.

Dr. Christine Weyman

Lake Cumberland

District Health Department

Somerset