Governor Perdue helps raise awareness about health benefits of breastfeeding








Governor Sonny Perdue signed Breastfeeding Awareness Month Proclamation with assistance of eight-month-old Johnathon Hooks, son of Odette Hooks, Breastfeeding Peer Counselor with the Cobb-Douglas health district as advocates looked on.

June 2, 2005

ATLANTA –Governor Sonny Perdue hosted at the Capitol a group of mothers and babies, lactation consultants and peer counselors, and representatives of federal, state, and local programs that promote and support breastfeeding. The purpose of the gathering was to inspire citizens to learn more about the health benefits of breastfeeding. “Breastfeeding is beneficial for both the mother and child,” said Governor Perdue. “Breastfeeding promotes bonding between moms and infants, creating a strong foundation for nurturing family relationships, and provides an excellent nutritional start for babies.”

“May was Breastfeeding Awareness Month,” said Beth Holloway, breastfeeding coordinator for the Georgia Department of Human Resources Division of Public Health, “May was chosen because of Mother’s Day, to show appreciation to mothers for giving babies the best start in life.We are grateful to the Governor for taking time to support us in promoting the benefits of breastfeeding ”

Breastfeeding is recommended as the preferred infant feeding method by the U.S. Surgeon General and the majority of healthcare professionals. “DHR promotes, protects and supports breastfeeding as the preferred method of infant feeding, and beneficial to both the infant's and the mother's health,” stated Dr. Stuart Brown, acting director for the Division of Public Health. “The Georgia Department of Human Resources Position Paper on Breastfeeding declares this position and states that the Department has a vital role and a responsibility to create a supportive public environment in order to encourage breastfeeding as the cultural norm.”

“Mothers benefit from breastfeeding, because it protects against breast cancer, helps their bodies return to the pre-pregnancy condition more quickly, and helps save money,” Arlene Toole, Lactation Consultant at GradyMemorialHospital added.

“Breast milk is easily digested, enhances the baby’s immune system, and contains antibodies from the mother that pass to the baby and help protect against illness and allergies. Human milk contains a balance of nutrients that closely matches human infant requirements for growth and development, enhances neurodevelopment, and protects against childhood obesity, Toole explained.”

The Department of Health and Human Services, Healthy People 2010 goal is to increase the proportion of women who breastfeed their infants to 75% in the early postpartum period, 50% at six months of age and 25% at twelve months of age. Currently, the National Immunization Survey, which gathers breastfeeding data among women in Georgia, indicates 62.7% initiation, 30% six-month duration and 11.8% twelve-month duration rates.

The most recent Centers for Disease Control Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System Data, which gathers data among WIC participants in Georgia, indicates 49.3% breastfeeding initiation and 16.3% six-month duration rates. “WIC has provided nutrition education including nutritional counseling, breastfeeding support and supplemental foods to low income families for over thirty years,” said Alwin Peterson, WIC Branch Director. “In federal fiscal year 2004, the Georgia WIC Program provided benefits to 15,502 breastfeeding women and their infants.”

The Georgia WIC Program was recently awarded a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Breastfeeding Promotion grant, which will be used to train breastfeeding peer counselors, who are current or former WIC participants in the community with personal breastfeeding experience who provide information and support to other WIC mothers. Odette Hooks, breastfeeding counselor with Cobb Douglas Health district, stated she wanted to be a peer counselor, “To make a difference in the community, making mothers aware of the benefits of breastfeeding using examples of how breastfeeding worked for me.”

For more information on strategies to promote breastfeeding and support programs across the state, please call (404) 657-2884 or download the recently released Overweight and Obesity in Georgia 2005 report (pages 25-27). Additional information accessible at:

For information, contact:
Demetrius Parker (404) 657-6313

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