World Breastfeeding Week starts today and kicks off the yearly campaign for awareness about breastfeeding.
According to 2016 numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 91 percent of Alaskan babies have been breastfed ever compared to the roughly 81 percent average across the United States. This is also the first year that breastfeeding in public has legal protection in all 50 states.
Stephanie Jenkins, coordinator with the Kodiak Area Native Association’s Women, Infants, and Children program, or WIC program, says breastfeeding includes a host of advantages.
“Children that are not breastfed tend to be sick more often when they’re younger children, and those same children tend to have higher rates of ear infections and diarrhea and tend to have to go to the doctor more frequently.”
Nursing also benefits the mother, according to Jenkins, who says it decreases the chances of ovarian and breast cancer.
And the milk continues to pass along antibodies for as long as a mother is breastfeeding. Jenkins says lactation consultants suggest mothers breastfeed their children for two years, but other cultures may nurse children up until 7 years of age.
“Some other countries don’t have access to clean drinking water, and so some of the highest causes of death come from unclean drinking water and, by breastfeeding your baby, you’re able to provide breast milk so that they don’t have to drink that unclean water.”
The Kodiak Area Native Association will hold an event Tuesday, August 07, for mothers and their babies. That’ll be at 2 p.m. at the Mill Bay Health Center.