Tag Archives: baby

Mother and baby benefit greatly from breastfeeding

By Ellen B. Babb, PhD, MPH, RD, LD, CLC
WIC State Breastfeeding Coordinator
DHEC Division of WIC Services

Just how beneficial is breastfeeding for mothers and babies? Let us count the ways.

  • Human milk provides the ideal balance of nutrients for an infant’s growth and development.
  • Human milk is easy to digest and protects babies from diarrhea and other stomach issues.
  • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS, as well as infectious and chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
  • Breastfeeding saves money.
  • Breastfeeding provides a unique bonding experience for mother and baby.

Considering all those benefits — and there are more — is it any wonder that pediatricians and other health officials encourage mothers to breastfeed?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby desire.

World Breastfeeding Week

We cannot overstate the value of breastfeeding, which is why August 1 – 7 is set aside as World Breastfeeding Week. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) encourages all expectant and new mothers to know the facts about the important health benefits of breastfeeding.

In South Carolina, 73 percent of babies have been breastfed for some period of time, 13 percent are exclusively breastfed at six months, and 14 percent are breastfeeding in some capacity at 12 months. Among all WIC mothers in South Carolina, 24 percent of children under age 1 are being breastfed.

WIC Supports Breastfeeding Moms and Babies

Many times moms and babies need assistance to get the most out of breastfeeding. That’s where DHEC’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program comes in; we have supportive breastfeeding staff, which includes breastfeeding peer counselors, certified lactation counselors and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, ready to help.

WIC provides resources and services such as:

  • Breastfeeding education materials
  • Enhanced breastfeeding food packages
  • Breastfeeding support groups (Circle of Friends)
  • “How to Breastfeed” classes
  • Breast pumps and supplies

One of the best ways to get a good start breastfeeding after giving birth is to have your baby at a Baby-Friendly Hospital, where mothers are given optimum support to initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies safely. To view a listing of South Carolina hospitals that have received this designation, please click here.

The success rate among mothers who want to breastfeed can be greatly improved through active support from their families, friends, communities, clinicians, health care leaders and employers.

For more general information about breastfeeding, click here. For information about how WIC can help with breastfeeding, please click here.

Vaccines Can Protect You and Your Baby from Whooping Cough

By Teresa Foo, MD, MPH
Medical Consultant
Divisions of Immunization and Acute Disease Epidemiology

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a very contagious disease that can cause serious illness and death, especially in newborns and young infants who are not fully vaccinated. Whooping cough is often thought of as a disease of the past.  While we no longer see the number of cases we did in the United States before whooping cough vaccines were available, it is a growing health concern.

Whooping cough can be serious for anyone, but it is life-threatening in newborns and young babies.  Up to 20 babies die each year in the United States due to whooping cough.  About half of babies younger than 1 year old who get whooping cough need treatment in the hospital.  The younger the baby is when he gets whooping cough, the more likely he will need to be treated in a hospital. It is important to know that many babies with whooping cough don’t cough at all. Instead it can cause them to stop breathing and turn blue.

Whooping cough vaccines are the safest and most effective way to prevent this disease. The whooping cough vaccine for children (2 months through 6 years) is called DTaP.  The vaccine that provides protection for adolescents and adults is called Tdap. Both of these vaccines provide protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough).

There are three ways you can protect your baby from whooping cough.

First, pregnant women should get the Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy, preferably between the 27th and 36th week.  This allows the mother to give her newborn the greatest number of protective antibodies and the best possible protection against whooping cough.

Second, make sure everyone who is around your baby is up to date with their whooping cough vaccines.  When a baby’s family members and caregivers get a whooping cough vaccine, they help protect their own health while forming a protective circle of immunity around the baby.  Many babies who get whooping cough catch it from siblings, parents or other caregivers who might not even know they have the disease.

Third, make sure your baby gets his or her vaccines on time.  Your baby will need several doses of DTaP vaccine for the best protection.  The first dose is recommended at age 2 months.  Your baby will need two more doses after that, given at 4 months and 6 months, to build up high levels of protection, and then booster shots at 15 through 18 months and at 4 through 6 years to maintain that protection.

Talk to your doctor about what vaccines you or your baby need.  For more information on protecting your baby from whooping cough, go to  www.cdc.gov/pertussis/pregnant/mom/index.html

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