Breastfeeding has long been recognized as a proven disease-prevention strategy. Kaiser Permanente believes that one of the most important choices a mother can make to promote the health of her family is to choose to breastfeed her newborn. The Health System signed a commitment with the “Partnership for a Healthier America” to support breastfeeding as a measure of hospital quality and a key strategy in preventing childhood obesity.
The breastfeeding-obesity link is now recognized by key government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The AAP recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and continued breastfeeding, with the addition of appropriate foods, up to at least one year of age. Studies suggest that more than 20% of children aged two to five are overweight or at risk of being overweight. Breastfeeding reduces risk for childhood obesity as breastfed infants are more likely to be able to stop eating when they are full. Longer and more exclusive breastfeeding is associated with the lowest risk. Formula-fed infants tend to be fatter than breastfed infants at 12 months of age.
Dr. Edward Ellison, executive medical director-elect, Kaiser Permanente Southern California region explains:
“At Kaiser Permanente, we are committed to giving every baby the healthiest start possible. We believe in making the healthy choice the easy choice for mothers and families, so we are striving to support breastfeeding in our hospitals. We also promote and support breastfeeding as a key component of our comprehensive strategy to prevent childhood obesity.”
Kaiser Permanente encourages early entry into prenatal care and maternal care, and expectant mothers are encouraged to develop a birth plan to clearly indicate their intentions for feeding the baby. Thirteen Kaiser Permanente hospitals are already recognized as Baby-Friendly Hospitals by Baby-Friendly USA and the number is expected to increase to 29 by Jan. 1, 2013.
According to Vitals, Dr. Edward Ellison is a board-certified Family Practitioner with 26 years experience in Family Medicine.