DHEC Spotlights ‘One of the Best Gifts a Mother Can Give Her Child’ during National Breastfeeding Month
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 30, 2021
COLUMBIA, S.C. – August is National Breastfeeding Month, and the South Carolina Women, Infant and Children Nutrition Program (WIC) is encouraging South Carolinians to celebrate the month by raising awareness about the beneficial role breastfeeding plays in public health.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) manages the state’s WIC program and has many resources available for educating families about the benefits of mothers nursing their babies.
“Breastfeeding provides all the nutrients a baby needs for healthy growth and development,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, Public Health Director of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. “This makes breastfeeding an important part of overall public health because it helps to prevent disease and contributes to reducing health disparities by giving babies a healthy start at the very beginning of their lives.”
Breastfeeding is beneficial for both infants and mothers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers breast milk the best source of nutrition for most infants. As an infant grows, breast milk changes to meet the growing infant’s nutritional needs.
“Breastfeeding is one of the best gifts a mother can give her child,” said Dr. Ellen Babb, WIC State Breastfeeding Coordinator. “Breastfeeding and breast milk are uniquely designed for babies, and a mother’s milk provides a unique combination of easily digestible nutrients and immune factors.”
Breastfeeding also can help protect infants and mothers against certain illnesses and diseases:
- Decreased risks for infants include asthma; obesity; type 1 diabetes; severe lower respiratory disease; ear infections; sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS); and gastrointestinal infections (diarrhea and vomiting), including necrotizing enterocolitis, which is a serious gastrointestinal problem that mostly affects premature babies
- Decreased risks for mothers include breast cancer; ovarian cancer; type 2 diabetes; and high blood pressure
Many women encounter barriers to breastfeeding that are outside of their control, but public health services contribute to a supportive breastfeeding environment. South Carolina’s WIC program offers an array of support services to help mothers reach their breastfeeding goals. One of these services is lactation consultants who provide one-on-one guidance to help mothers successfully breastfeed their babies.