To the Editor: Breastfeeding awareness encouraged


August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month in Ohio. Gov. Strickland is urging all Ohioans to support
breastfeeding. The theme for the month is "Breastfeeding-a vital emergency response. Are you
ready?" Breastfeeding provides better health outcomes than formula feeding for both the mother and
baby. It also provides unequaled protection against malnutrition and disease during disasters,
emergencies and economic downturns. Breast milk is a free, safe, and reliable food source for infants
and young children. There have been many reported instances of children being kept alive during
disasters by breastfeeding. During an emergency, the breastfeeding mother and her family have the
comfort of knowing that the baby has a safe and adequate food supply available as long as necessary.
All citizens need to be prepared for any situation. Pregnant women and their families should aim to
breastfeed. Families need to think about how they would feed their baby if clean water, sterile bottles
and formula, or even shelter were not available. This is especially important in this economic downturn
where bread winners are losing their jobs and sometimes families are losing their homes.
The Centers for Disease Control reports that Ohio’s breastfeeding initiation rate of 59.6% ranks 44th in
the nation. We can do better. All elements of the community should cooperate and support breastfeeding
mothers so that babies can be assured of a free, safe, and reliable food source whenever disaster
For more information about breastfeeding please call the Wood County Health Department WIC office at
(419) 352-8402.
Ann L. Smith, RN, MPH, CIC
Director of Nursing
Wood County Health Department
Bowling Green

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