LANSING, Mich. – To help promote early breastfeeding success and positive outcomes, August has been declared Breastfeeding Awareness Month in Michigan and Aug. 25-31 has been named Black Breastfeeding Week by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Lack of promotional and educational efforts about the benefits of breastfeeding result in lower breastfeeding rates in many communities, including communities of color. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), black infants are 21 percent less likely to have ever been breastfed than any other race.
In Michigan, only 77.2 percent of non-Hispanic black women initiate breastfeeding compared to 90.1 percent of non-Hispanic white women. And, only 38.1 percent continue to breastfeed at three months compared to 62.6 percent of non-Hispanic white women, according to the CDC’s 2017 MI Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System.
For every 1,000 babies born in Michigan, about seven die by age 1, and among black babies that number is more than double. Black infants have the highest infant death rate compared to other races and ethnicities in Michigan.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, all babies, with rare exceptions, should be breastfed or receive expressed human milk exclusively for the first six months of life. All babies who are breastfed receive immunities, but the greatest immunity occurs when a baby is exclusively breastfed.
“Each and every drop of breast milk provided to babies makes a difference; one feeding at a time,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health. “But, balancing work, school, family, life and breastfeeding takes commitment and a supportive community. Michigan is dedicated to expanding public understanding of the critical impact breastfeeding has on improving the health of all infants and mothers and reducing infant mortality rates within the black community.”
Activities are planned throughout the state to draw attention to the importance of breastfeeding for the health and well-being of mothers and children. A Community Breastfeeding Walk is slated for Thursday, Aug. 15, starting at 10 a.m. Families should gather at Frank J. Kelley Capitol Walkway, located between the Michigan State Capitol and the Hall of Justice in Lansing.
The purpose of the event is to bring awareness and change to the systems that impact breastfeeding families across the state. This year’s walk is hosted by Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Maternal Infant Health program, MDHHS Women, Infants and Children, Michigan Breastfeeding Network, Willow Tree, DJ Fudgie, epo and Next Generation Lactation Service.
For more information on breastfeeding, please contact the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department at 482-7382, extension 178.
Western U.P. Health Department is the regional public health agency serving Houghton, Keweenaw, Baraga, Ontonagon, and Gogebic counties with environmental, personal and community health services. Western U.P Health Department has offices in Hancock, L’Anse, Ontonagon and Bessemer.