Breastfeeding, A Public Health Issue

The first week of August is World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7), and Utah celebrates the year-round efforts of promoting, protecting and supporting breastfeeding. The Surgeon General Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding brought to light this as a public health issue. Programs at The Utah Department of Health (UDOH), including the Healthy Living through Environment, Policy & Improved Clinical Care (EPICC) and Maternal and Infant Health programs, strategically support breastfeeding by assisting hospitals and workplaces through grants funded by the CDC and HRSA.

Utah Data - Breastfeeding is on the rise in the Nation and in Utah                
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Immunization Survey (NIS), 2011 births.

Saves Dollars for Our Health Care, Employers and Families
It has long been documented that infant formula use increases the prevalence of numerous diseases and illness in infants and children.  This leads to increased costs in health care - a staggering long term and short term estimated U.S. savings of $13 billion from medical and other costs.

Hospitals Play a Significant Role
It is also well documented that hospital policies and practices play a significant role in helping a mother choose to successfully initiate and continue to breastfeed. Getting the family off to a good start is an important role for hospitals; families are now choosing birthing facilities that provide more services and care to help them breastfeed. Since Utah has only one Baby Friendly Hospital, the UDOH is supporting hospitals by providing a 10-Step Program that can be implemented two steps at a time to help hospitals in this effort. Stepping Up for Utah Babies is a new and FREE program for hospitals. For more information and resources contact Nickee Palacios at npalacios@utah.gov ... 801-273-2969.

Supporting Working Families
Break Time for Nursing Mothers – The Patient Protection and Affordable Act amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to require employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breastmilk for her nursing child for one year. Employers see a return on investment by less absenteeism, sick leave and health care costs. 

Does your facility comply with the law by:

  • having a private space designated for nursing mothers?
  • having a written policy in place?
  • educating and supporting employees?
  • educating and training supervisors and managers?
  • providing Donor Human Milk (Mountain West Mothers’ Milk Bank www.mwmothersmilkbank.org)?

For more information and resources contact EPICC at: judyharris@utah.gov, 801-538-6603.

Additional resources for employees and employers: http://www.dol.gov/whd/nursingmothers/