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New regulations require New York hospitals to promote breastfeeding

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Posted at 4:52 PM, Oct 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-19 16:52:46-04

New regulations that promote breastfeeding will give women who give birth in New York hospitals additional breastfeeding support.

Despite the well-documented health benefits to both infants and mothers, only 44% of newborn infants are exclusively breastfed in the first few days of life. This is well below the national average of 70%.

To highlight the importance of breastfeeding, one main goal of the New York State Prevention Agenda is to increase the number of infants who are exclusively breastfed.

The amended regulations require hospitals to put newborns with their mothers immediately after delivery. This is because of a study that shows infants who have skin-to-skin contact with their mothers have improved health. This includes more stable heart and breathing rates, better temperature regulation and higher glucose levels. Both the mother and infant are less stressed which means breastfeeding is more likely to be initiated.

"The amended regulations help ensure that we provide the support and encouragement new mothers need to breastfeed their babies and continue to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months," said Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker. "Research shows that breast milk provides unique nutrients and anitbodies that help protect babies from diseases such as ear infections. lower respiratory infections and diarrhea, and decrease the risk of asthma, diabetes and obesity alter in life. For women, breastfeeding lowers their risk for breast and ovarian cancer, as well as diabetes."

The new regulations also require hospitals to discuss the risks of early pacifier use with patients. Pacifiers can prevent mothers from being able to recognize early feeding cues, making it difficult to establish breastfeeding and ending the action prematurely. The American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend waiting one month before using pacifiers.

The regulations also prohibit hospitals from giving out gift bags with formula marketing materials. Most hospitals in New York have already voluntarily stopped distributing free formula and marketing materials, but the added regulation to help make sure all hospitals follow this practice.

The new policies do not affect infants whose mothers choose to formula feed or form whom breastfeeding is medically suggested against.

These changes go into affect January 16, 2017.