Breastfeeding is a public health game changer. It is low cost, low tech and seldom requires any durable medical equipment, drugs, or infra-structure. It does not discriminate: it improves the health of both boys and girls; healthy or sick; premature or full-term, rich or poor.
Breastfeeding protects our infants from an increased risk of:
- type II diabetes
- certain forms of leukemia
- ear and gastrointestinal infections
- impaired neurodevelopment
- necrotizing enterocolitis
Women who breastfeed reduce their risk of:
- pre-menopausal breast cancer
- ovarian cancer
- type II diabetes
- cardiovascular disease (recently determined to be the MOST costly women’s
health condition in our country)
In light of these and other benefits, breastfeeding has the potential to lower U.S. healthcare costs by up to $13 billion each year. Our own Georgia WIC Department estimates that an exclusively breastfed WIC infant saves Medicaid and WIC $160 per month in the first six months of life.
In Georgia, 70% of new mothers initiate breastfeeding. Six months later only 10% are still exclusively breastfeeding. These numbers indicate that Georgia's moms understand some of the benefits of breastfeeding, but they do not have the support, know-how or resources to successfully breastfeed long enough to reap the health, social or financial benefits.
How do we change this?
Through greater access to IBCLC breastfeeding support services! According to the Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin, “International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) are the only health care professionals certified in lactation care. They have specific clinical expertise and training in the clinical management of complex problems with lactation.” Dr. Benjamin therefore called upon each state to license IBCLCs in her 2011 "Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding" based upon uncontroverted research-based evidence that our women are more likely to begin and continue breastfeeding if they have access to an IBCLC, whether in the WIC clinic or the NICU.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, Georgia needs 1152 IBCLC’s to adequately serve its mothers and babies; we have 336 IBCLCs. Why aren’t there more IBCLCs in Georgia? Because we don’t yet have public or private insurance reimbursement for lactation consults. Without reimbursement, a woman can’t obtain a lactation consult using Medicaid or her insurance for payment; without reimbursement the IBCLC’s pool of clients is limited to self-paying clients; without reimbursement the IBCLC can’t make a living wage in this profession.
When you consider that 59% of all babies in Georgia are born through Medicaid, you quickly realize that the majority of our citizens will not reap the benefits of breastfeeding without a lactation benefit provided for within Medicaid. And the IBCLC cannot provide those consults without first being licensed by the State.
Let’s change all of this. Let’s make sure the 70% of our mothers who begin breastfeeding, continue long enough to enjoy the amazing health, social and financial benefits it offers to their babies and to them! Let’s get Georgia moms the support they need!
Join our cause and please sign this petition calling upon our Georgia State Legislature to license IBCLCs.
"The mission of the HMHB Breastfeeding Licensure and Reimbursement Committee is to promote licensure of International Board Certified Lactation Consultants in the state of Georgia in order to ensure that qualified and competent clinical lactation services are available, reimbursed by federal and private payors and provided equitably for Georgia’s mothers and babies."
We, the undersigned, support state licensure of International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) in Georgia.
Research shows that mothers who have access to IBCLCs have higher initiation and duration rates of breastfeeding their babies. Research also shows that breastfed babies are healthier than formula fed babies. Among other diseases, breast milk reduces the risk of ear infections, SIDS, leukemia, asthma, obesity, and the deadly necrotizing enterocolitis. Mother’s milk is also beneficial for baby brain development. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies have the exclusive nourishment of breast milk for their first six months of life.
Georgia is in the bottom 20% in the nation for its breastfeeding rates while it sits in the top 20% in the nation for infant mortality. The direct inverse relationship is not just a coincidence. Georgia’s moms and babies could be healthier with the education, support, and care that IBCLC’s are clinically trained to provide.
Over 70% of Georgia moms are leaving the hospital breastfeeding their babies, but less than 10% make it to the six month mark of exclusively providing their babies with mother’s milk, as recommended by the AAP.
IBCLCs are already certified by an international board with rigorous requirements. Certification requires prerequisite college level health science courses and hundreds of hours of clinical work under the supervision of other IBCLCs. Thereafter, the candidate must pass an international exam to prove competency. There are over 25,000 IBCLCs in 90 countries. The skill set and expertise of IBCLCs has not been lost by the medical community in the U.S. In fact, many hospitals with birthing centers employ them to assist new mothers. However, access to IBCLCs outside of the hospital setting is limited. Licensure would change that.
The Surgeon General of the United States, Regina Benjamin, M.D., supports the state licensing of IBCLCs and we do too.