The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends six months of exclusive breastfeeding, with continuing breastfeeding through the first year of life. August is National Breastfeeding Month. Pediatricians Lisa Stellwagen, MD, and Michelle Leff, MD, at UC San Diego Health are available to discuss the health benefits of breastfeeding for infants and mothers, such as:
- Reduction in SIDS
- Fewer infections: ear, respiratory, intestinal, bladder, meningitis
- Decrease in childhood obesity
- Risk reduction for diabetes, celiac disease, even certain types of childhood cancer
- Risk reduction for metabolic and cardiovascular disease and cancer in mothers
“Recent data shows that approximately 96 percent of San Diego mothers are breastfeeding in our area hospitals after birth,” said Stellwagen. “All infants do better with mothers’ milk; but premature and sick babies may benefit even more.”
UC San Diego Health is a Baby-Friendly hospital, a designation by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund that recognizes hospitals that promote breastfeeding. UC San Diego Health helps families to make informed decisions about breastfeeding and offers services, such as lactation support beyond the hospital stay. Support groups and pump rentals boost breastfeeding success rates.
For breastfeeding mothers whose infants have a temporary need for supplemental milk, donor milk is an option. Stellwagen launched San Diego Mother’s Milk Bank this year with the goal of helping all mothers provide optimal natural nutrition to their infants.
Other services provided to patients at UC San Diego Health include the Supporting Premature Infant Nutrition Program, which helps mothers produce sufficient breast milk for their premature infants in the neonatal intensive care unit and the Premature Infant Nutrition Clinic that provides a team approach to breastfeeding and optimizing mother’s milk supply after discharge from the hospital.