The benefits of breastfeeding have been well documented. For the baby, breastfeeding can:
- Prevent otitis media (middle ear infections)
- Prevent respiratory tract infections
- Prevent diarrhea
- Prevent childhood obesity
There is also evidence that breastfeeding may:
- Prevent diabetes
- Prevent heart disease
- Increase IQ
- Reduce allergies
Studies have also shown that for the mother, breastfeeding can reduce the risk for ovarian cancer and premenopausal breast cancer, and may support weight loss.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding until one year of age or longer. While there are numerous efforts and organizations promoting breastfeeding, not all populations are receiving the message.
African-American babies are less likely to have been breastfed compared to non-Hispanic white babies.
- 71.5% of non-Hispanic white children have been breastfed
- 50.1% of black children have been breastfed
Similar differences occur among all socio-economic groups. It is critical to support breastfeeding education among all populations in Hillsborough County, especially among minority populations that suffer from health care disparities.
Many local hospitals offer breastfeeding classes for expecting mothers. Check the hospital’s website or call to find out how to enroll.
The Healthy Start Coalition of Hillsborough offers breastfeeding support in addition to a number of prenatal and parenting education classes. When you first visit your obstetrician, ask for the Healthy Start Prenatal Risk Screen. It’s a one-page questionnaire that you and your doctor complete to determine which programs are appropriate for you. It is completely confidential.
La Leche League of Florida
La Leche is an international organization dedicated to helping mothers breastfeed through education and encouragement. Classes and meetings are available locally in Tampa and Brandon.
It is critical that mothers give their babies the best possible chance at a healthy and successful childhood and breastfeeding is one of the best places to start.
Resources for Prenatal Care in Hillsborough County