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Louisiana gains ground in annual report

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State improves in breastfeeding ranking

The Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) announced on August 1, that Louisiana has moved up four spots to 44th place in the federal government’s latest breastfeeding report card, marking solid progress in the state’s support of breastfeeding. This announcement coincides with World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7) and emphasizes the DHH’s message that breastfeeding has been proven to improve health outcomes for women and children, including reducing the rate of childhood obesity.

“We are so thrilled to see higher rankings for Louisiana,” said Dr. Betsy LeRoy, a Willis-Knighton obstetrician at the Women’s Health Clinic in Shreveport and current chairman of the Louisiana Breastfeeding Coalition steering committee. “With continued support, we hope to further increase our breastfeeding rates for healthier mothers and healthier babies.”

The Women’s Health Clinic is part of the Willis-Knighton Health System. Locally, Willis-Knighton provides many services to mothers and their babies including breastfeeding classes, lactation consultants at all birthing hospitals for 24/7 support, and peer-to-peer counselling through breastfeeding support groups.

Willis-Knighton Health System was the first health system in Louisiana with all birthing hospitals earning the GIFT (Guided Infant Feeding Techniques) certification from the Louisiana Maternal and Child Health Coalition. This certification recognizes Willis-Knighton for its efforts to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. There are currently only 18 GIFT-certified birthing facilities in Louisiana.

The DHH report also stated that more than 60 percent of infants in Louisiana have been breastfed at some point in their lives, up from 53 percent last year. Some positive outcomes a mother and baby experience from breastfeeding, when continued for at least the first six months of the baby’s life, include increased natural immunity, reduced risk of child obesity, maternal bonding with her child, and greater weight reduction for the mother.