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The National Medical Association Establishes the Breastfeeding Alliance

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The National Medical Association Establishes the Breastfeeding Alliance

Physicians, as well as new moms, need more information about baby’s first food

You’ve heard the old adage “a big baby is a healthy baby”? Like a lot of sayings, this is not necessarily accurate. Feeding your newborn formula instead of breastfeeding tends to make babies larger, but also provides less protection from developing conditions such as diabetes, asthma and obesity later in life.

For more than 30 years, African-American women have had the lowest breastfeeding rates, and though the numbers have increased somewhat in recent years, black moms still have the lowest rates of all ethnic groups (about 50 percent lower than those of their white counterparts). When it comes to the gold standard of infant nutrition—the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends six months of exclusive breastfeeding—among African Americans the rate is only 20 percent compared to 40 percent among whites. Further widening this gap is the fact that info about breastfeeding and its benefits is seldom provided by obstetricians during prenatal and postnatal visits.

Since health-care providers are the public’s first line of defense against widening health disparities, and breastfeeding is one of the best early ways to combat many of these conditions, the National Medical Association (NMA) has formed the Breastfeeding Alliance. This task force, supported by a grant from the Kellogg Foundation, is designed to educate physicians about the importance of breastfeeding and encourage them to start the dialogue about the practice with new moms.

Victoria Green, M.D., director of Atlanta’s Grady Gynecology Comprehensive Breast Center, medical director of the Grady Ob/Gyn Satellite Clinics and an associate professor at Emory University, is at the forefront of the NMA’s Breastfeeding Alliance. She will introduce speakers on the subject of breastfeeding in minority populations at the NMA’s Colloquium, March 8-11, at the Marriott Metro Center in Washington, D.C.

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Miranda Southwel