Breastfeeding Medicine

Physicians blogging about breastfeeding

WIC Peer Counseling Program essential for public health

with 11 comments

A proposed amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations Bill would eliminate funding for the WIC Peer Counseling Program, an important source of breastfeeding support in communities throughout this country.

“The science clearly shows that peer counselors increase breastfeeding success and this is a key tool in addressing current disparities,” says Jerry Calnen, president of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.

The amendment, proposed by Virginia Foxx, (R-NC), would remove existing funding for the WIC Peer Counseling Program established under former President George W. Bush.

The WIC Program serves families with incomes less than $27,214 for a family of two. WIC serves over four million children, with two-thirds below the poverty line. These families are less likely to initiate breastfeeding, and less likely to continue breastfeeding. By now it is well-documented that peer counseling does make a difference.

Not breastfeeding is associated with substantial health risks for both mother and child. Infants who are not breastfed face increased risks of ear infections, diarrhea, pneumonia, obesity, diabetes, childhood leukemia and sudden infant death syndrome. Among mothers, not breastfeeding is associated with increased risks of type 2 diabetes, breast and ovarian cancer, high blood pressure, and heart attacks.

A recent study found that suboptimal breastfeeding rates incur $13 billion in excess health costs each year.

“Disparities in breastfeeding lead to lifelong disease burdens for mothers and children,” Calnen said. “Peer counseling programs to reduce these disparities are essential.”

Written by bfmed

June 15, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Posted in In the news, policy

11 Responses

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  1. I think it’s very important to have the counseling program available to support breastfeeding!

    Lindsey

    June 15, 2011 at 3:48 pm

  2. I am a WIC counselor and have personally been a part of helping to spread the valuable information about breastfeeding and have supported countless numbers of women through their breastfeeding experience. I can not imagine anyone taking away such a valuable service from women who are in need of this support the most

    J Roth

    June 15, 2011 at 6:30 pm

  3. I work in Detroit MI as a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor for WIC and our rates our going up, I hope this bill doesn’t pass.

    @Mamachickx4

    June 15, 2011 at 6:37 pm

  4. How much in funding is going to be saved annually but cutting this program? If it’s less than 13 billion, then how does this make sense?

    julie

    June 15, 2011 at 7:45 pm

  5. The agricultural department is more interested in women using formula (containing corn syrup and soybeans) than they are in having women breastfeed. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture)runs WIC. It’s a farm subsidy program; it is not run by Social Services or the Public Health Dept.
    So this is unsurprising. Breastfeeding does not pay for the massive corn subsidies.

    Ruthe Schultz

    June 15, 2011 at 9:42 pm

  6. Having spent much of my children’s younger years helping other women in their decision to breastfeed, I know firsthand the benefits of having someone come along side to walk for a time with a mother those first days as she nurses her baby. Many breastfeeding mother and baby relationships are salvaged with accurate information, support and encouragement. Back when I was a peer counselor with our local health department’s W.I.C. office, all counselors were volunteers. I’m unsure if this is still true, but I’m wondering how practical it is to cut funding to a program that expends a proportionately small amount of money produce such a great result. Healthier breastfeeding mothers, healthier breastfed babies, lowers our country’s medical costs, and helps to rebuild the American family by bonding mothers and children again.

    Christina Cawthon

    June 16, 2011 at 6:58 am

  7. The Foxx amendment failed 306-119. The roll call vote is posted here:
    http://t.co/gwTFlWQ

    The floor debate was covered in the Huffington Post:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/15/virginia-foxx-proposes-to_n_877750.html

    The full text of the floor debate is online here, beginning on page H4208:
    http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/search/citation.result.CREC.action?congressionalRecord.volume=157&congressionalRecord.pagePrefix=H&congressionalRecord.pageNumber=4209&publication=CREC

    bfmed

    June 16, 2011 at 8:00 am

  8. […] are less likely to initiate breastfeeding, and less likely to continue breastfeeding,” says Jerry Calnen, president of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.  “By now it is well-documented that […]

  9. […] families are less likely to initiate breastfeeding, and less likely to continue breastfeeding,” says Jerry Calnen, president of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. “By now it is well-documented that peer […]

  10. […] WIC Peer Counseling Program essential for public health, Breastfeeding Medicine — A short statement in response to an amendment propsed by Virginia Foxx, (R-NC), which would remove existing funding for the WIC Peer Counseling Program.  Breastfeeding is a major public health issue and support NEEDS to be government funded, especially for women and children most at risk of poor health and inadequate nutrition. […]

  11. […] WIC Peer Counseling Program essential for public health, Breastfeeding Medicine — A short statement in response to an amendment propsed by Virginia Foxx, (R-NC), which would remove existing funding for the WIC Peer Counseling Program.  Breastfeeding is a major public health issue and support NEEDS to be government funded, especially for women and children most at risk of poor health and inadequate nutrition. […]


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