State DOH awards Erie County $500K to promote breastfeeding

ALBANY State Health Commissioner, Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., announced recently that $507,604 has been awarded to Erie County to expand breastfeeding initiatives, as breastfeeding is the safest and most healthy choice for babies.

“Breastfeeding has well established health benefits for infants, including fewer episodes of acute respiratory illnesses, ear infections, and gastroenteritis; reduced incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS); as well as reduced risk of asthma, obesity and chronic disease in childhood and beyond,” Commissioner Shah said. “These benefits are maximized when infants are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. Every mother wants the best for her infant and Erie County will have the opportunity to provide this needed support.”

“Breastfeeding provides infants with disease fighting antibodies that can help protect them from several types of illnesses. Breastfeeding also provides health benefits for mothers beyond emotional satisfaction, such as faster and easier recovery from childbirth and lower risk of obesity and diabetes,” said Erie County Health Commissioner Gale R. Burstein, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.P. “This $507,604 from the New York State Department of Health and the federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention will go a long way towards making sure more new mothers and babies in Erie County will benefit from breastfeeding.”

Erie County ranks 57th among New York’s 62 counties, with only 61 percent of infants having been ever breastfed. This is significantly below the federal Health & Human Services’ Healthy People 2020 goal of 82 percent. In addition, only 14 percent of Erie County mothers enrolled in the Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) exclusively breastfed their infants at three months of age; well below the Healthy People 2020 goal of 44 percent.

The $507,604 was awarded by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to Health Research, Incorporated (HRI), a not-for-profit corporation affiliated with the New York State Department of Health (DOH).

In addition to this grant, DOH promotes and supports breastfeeding among all mothers; but with a special focus on populations with low breastfeeding rates. This grant will provide funding for one year to 14 community-based organizations in Erie County that will support breastfeeding mothers. This grant will enable Erie County to:

Improve coordination with organizations that support breastfeeding;

Encourage breastfeeding awareness and practices in physician and other provider offices;

Promote access to home based services and programs that support breastfeeding; and

Increase the number of child care settings and community based organizations that are breastfeeding friendly.

Grant recipients are as follows:

P 2 Collaborative of Western New York, Inc.

The Belle Center (conduit for Community Health Worker Network of Buffalo)

Buffalo Prenatal – Perinatal Network

Catholic Charities of Buffalo

Catholic Health Systems / WomenCare

Central City Cafe

Child Care Resource Network

Community Health Center of Buffalo

Family Help Center

Jericho Road Ministries

Kaleida Health / Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo

La Leche League of Buffalo

Native American Community Services of Erie & Niagara Counties, Inc.

Neighborhood Health Center

For more information about the benefits of breastfeeding visit: www.health.ny.gov/community/pregnancy/breastfeeding/.