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."
Leah Aldridge, JD, IBCLC, RLC started this petition with a single signature, and now has 847 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.