State Department of Health Releases Breastfeeding Plan

Source: RLS Media

The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) released the 2022-2027 New Jersey Breastfeeding Strategic Plan (BFSP) to focus and coordinate statewide efforts to increase breastfeeding, improve lactation supports, and help reduce inequitable infant health outcomes.

NJDOH officials say the five-year strategic plan provides a roadmap to identify and foster policy, environmental, and system changes to increase breastfeeding initiation, duration, and exclusivity (defined as only receiving breast milk) in New Jersey. The plan results from a partnership among NJDOH, the Central Jersey Family Health Consortium, and the New Jersey Breastfeeding Coalition to focus and coordinate statewide efforts to improve lactation support.

The plan, which lays out a series of goals, serves as a blueprint of concrete actions state government, the healthcare sector, businesses, insurance, education, and the community can take to better promote and support breastfeeding and to create a statewide environment that normalizes breastfeeding.

Breast milk provides nutritional and immunological components ideally suited to babies’ growth and development needs. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding reduces morbidity and mortality risk. In addition, its positive impacts on infant and maternal health outcomes make supporting breastfeeding an essential step in addressing the state’s racial and ethnic disparities in birth outcomes.

Yet, New Jersey breastfeeding practices lag significantly behind the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization, which urge exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, continuing with the introduction of complementary foods for two years and beyond. While initiation rates in the state are high, the report notes that all breastfeeding rates, particularly exclusive breastfeeding rates, drop sharply in the early months.

Exclusive breastfeeding rates in the hospital are declining, while formula feeding and combination feeding (breast milk and formula) are rising. In 2019, only 55.4% of New Jersey infants were breastfeeding at six months, and only 33.8% were breastfeeding at 12 months, despite the recommendations of prominent health organizations that infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months, according to the report.

In New Jersey, 41.2% of infants were exclusively breastfeeding at three months. Only 23.5% of infants were exclusively breastfed at six months in 2019 – rates which lag behind Healthy NJ 2020 goals (i.e., 45.0% at three months and 25.5% at six months) and national averages (i.e., 45.3% at three months and 24.9% at six months).

The Breastfeeding Strategic Plan directly builds on our Nurture NJ Maternal and Infant Health Strategic Plan to address and combat maternal and infant mortality and morbidity in our state,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy. “The benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby are endless — from lowering risks of breast cancer and risk of SIDS to encouraging bonding between mother and child.

“This plan ensures breastfeeding mothers are supported throughout their journey, increasing our breastfeeding rates and bringing us one step closer to making New Jersey the safest and most equitable place in the nation to give birth and raise a baby.”


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