August is National Breastfeeding Month in Utah and nation

Efforts to get more mothers to breastfeed their babies are paying off as 79 percent of moms in the U.S. begin nursing, and the health benefits for them and their babies are many. Photo credit: California Department of Public Health.

SALT LAKE CITY – In Utah and across the U.S., the arrival of August marks the start of National Breastfeeding Month.

It has supporters touting the benefits of mother’s milk, often called nature’s perfect baby food.

Marian Tompson, one of the founders of the <a href=”” target=”parent”>La Leche League</a>, says mothers who are able to breastfeed can reduce their risk for diabetes, cardiovascular conditions and some forms of cancer.

And for the baby, she says there also is a variety of health benefits, such as a stronger immune system, better motor development and fewer allergies.

“There have been thousands of studies during the past 50 years that confirm babies are healthier when they’re breastfed,” she adds. “And it makes sense because they’re getting the food that was meant for their growth and development.”

Tompson says when La Leche League was founded in the 1950s, fewer than one-in-five mothers started out breastfeeding her baby. Today that figure is 79 percent.

While more mothers are starting with breastfeeding and they are nursing for longer on average, Tompson says there are still too many who quit in those first weeks or months, often because the moms have to return to work and are separated from their babies.

“In Utah, it’ll be a win-win situation for everybody when mothers who breastfeed their babies are supported and being helped to do so,” she says. “Both in employment, in school, anyplace where a mother who is breastfeeding has to be, and probably has to have her baby.”

Tompson says one initiative that already is having a positive impact is the growing number of hospitals in the U.S. that are gaining certification as breastfeeding-friendly.

There are now nearly 200 of them across 44 <a href=”” target=”parent”>states</a>.

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