As your constituent I urge you to co-sponsor the Breastfeeding Promotion Act (H.R. 2819 / S. 1244).
Breastfeeding is good for mothers, babies, and society! The medical evidence shows that NOT breastfeeding increases the baby’s risk of infections, diarrhea, SIDS, obesity, diabetes, asthma, and childhood leukemia, and increases the mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancers and diabetes. A 2009 study of nearly 140,000 women found that women who breastfed for at least one year were 10-15% less likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease compared to mothers who never breastfed.
Breastfeeding also has significant economic and environmental benefits for families, employers, and society. For every non-breastfed infant, $475 is lost to extra health care costs during the first year of life, to treat just three common diseases. Breastfed infants are healthier, so their parents have an almost three-fold reduction in absenteeism from work to care for sick infants. In addition to improving maternal and child health, breastfeeding reduces or eliminates the need to purchase expensive formula (and to discard waste from formula packaging).
Given all of these benefits, all major medical authorities (including the Department of Health and Human Services), recommend that babies get no food or drink other than breast milk for their first 6 months and continue to breastfeed for at least the first 1-2 years of life. But mothers need more support: only 12% of U.S. mothers are exclusively breastfeeding at 6 months, and only 21% are still breastfeeding at 1 year. The CDC and FDA recently found that 60% of women do not even meet their own breastfeeding goals.
Interest in breastfeeding is at an all-time high: 77% of women breastfeed their infants at birth. But breastfeeding rates drop rapidly after hospital discharge. More than 50% of women with infants less than one year old are in the labor force. Employed mothers are more likely to stop breastfeeding early if they do not receive the support they need in the workplace.
Forty-nine states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands already have enacted various laws protecting breastfeeding mothers, but they are not uniform and most are not comprehensive. Again, I urge you to co-sponsor the Breastfeeding Promotion Act to provide the support mothers need through a unified national policy to keep mothers, their children, and their communities healthy.
The Breastfeeding Promotion Act includes five provisions:
1. Amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect breastfeeding women from being fired or discriminated against in the workplace.
2. Provides tax incentives for businesses that establish private lactation areas in the workplace, or provide breastfeeding equipment or consultation services to their employees.
3. Provides for a performance standard to ensure breast pumps are safe and effective.
4. Allows breastfeeding equipment and consultation services to be tax deductible for families (amends Internal Revenue Code definition of “medical care”).
5. Protects the privacy of breastfeeding mothers by ensuring they have break time and a private place to pump in the workplace (applies to employers with 50 or more employees).
Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to your response.