11/06/2013

Lactation clinic to support breastfeeding mothers

Appointments available every Friday afternoon

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The advantages of breastfeeding include short- and long-term medical benefits for both infants and mothers. To develop and maintain a successful breastfeeding relationship, though, families may need support and education.

The WVU Pediatrics and Adolescent Care Clinic is expanding its services to patients who need breastfeeding support by offering a lactation clinic. Pediatrician Emily Nease, M.D., and WVU Healthcare lactation consultants Melissa Elliott and Mary Chafin will see breastfeeding mothers and their babies every Friday afternoon in the Pediatric and Adolescent Group Practice, housed on the second floor of the Physician Office Center.

“Breastfeeding initiation rates are increasing nationally, but duration of breastfeeding and exclusive rates are still very low,” Dr. Nease said. “West Virginia’s breastfeeding rates remain below the national average in all categories. The lactation clinic will provide a service to the community by supporting mothers who wish to breastfeed.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant’s life, followed by the continuation of breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced, for one year or longer.

Medical benefits for infants include lower risk for ear and gastrointestinal infections and reduced risk of hospitalization for lower respiratory tract infections. Breastfeeding is also associated with reduced incidences of asthma, atopic dermatitis, eczema, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and type I diabetes in infants, while mothers who breastfeed have a lower risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and ovarian and breast cancers, Nease said.

“Research is supporting the benefits of breastfeeding for both mom and baby,” Nease added. “We really want to promote that and give moms the skills to continue breastfeeding and the support they need to do so.”

Nease said the lactation clinic is a chance for breastfeeding mothers to discuss problems with latch, low milk supply and breast infections, as well as infant weight gain issues, particularly in babies who were born prematurely.

“The percentage of women who start breastfeeding immediately when the baby is born is the highest, but the numbers begin to dwindle as you look at those who are still breastfeeding at three and six months beyond that,” Nease said. “Many women run into problems after they’ve been discharged from the hospital. Often there is not a lot of support surrounding women once they go home. Our hope is that they’ll call, and we’ll be able to address any problems.”

The lactation clinic is open to internal and external referrals. Any breastfeeding mother, whether or not she gave birth at a WVU Healthcare facility, can schedule an appointment. To make a lactation appointment, call 304-598-4835.

--WVU HEALTH--


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For more information:
Amy Johns, Director of Public Affairs, 304-293-7087
johnsa@wvuhealthcare.com
ah: 11-06-13

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