Illinois lawmakers are considering a measure meant to get more women breastfeeding. Before she was a state Representative, Robyn Gabel directed the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition.
GABEL: “For me maternal and child health is a very, very important issue. And I think what we learned over the years is just how important breastfeeding is to the mother/child diet and to children’s health and to mothers’ health.”
Gabel, a Democrat from Evanston, says there are plentiful benefits, including that breast milk is thought to combat obesity in mothers and infants.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants be fed breast milk for their first year of life, and nothing but it for their first six months.
Gabel’s sponsoring legislation that would require hospitals to adopt pro-breastfeeding policies. Hospital staff would need to educate staff on how to educate women about the benefits.
Kathy Chan is with the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition. She says infants have a lot to gain from breast milk.
CHAN: “Lower rates of things like diarrhea, ear infections. And later on in life, there have also been studies that show they have a lower risk of obesity, asthma, diabetes.”
Chan says there are benefits for mothers too.
CHAN: “Women who breastfeed tend to have a lower risk of ovarian and breast cancers, as well as forms of diabetes. They also tend to lose weight faster.”
Chan testified to a House committee considering the measure, it was sent to the House floor.