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NYC Health + Hospitals Urges Parents to Breastfeed Longer as Part of New Guidelines From the American Academy of Pediatrics

Experts say nursing in the second year of life can help reduce maternal and infant mortality and morbidity Parents who breastfeed their children past the one-year mark have a decreased risk for type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and breast cancer

Aug 09, 2022

In recognition of National Breastfeeding Month, NYC Health + Hospitals today urged Big Apple parents to extend breastfeeding to two years or more, if mutually desired by parents and their babies. The updated guidance is in line with new recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which says preliminary data reveal breast milk in a child’s second year of life is a significant source of macronutrients and immunologic factors. The AAP says studies have also shown that breastfeeding longer than 12 months can reduce maternal type 2 diabetes, hypertension, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer rates.

“Choosing to breastfeed is one of the most important health decisions a parent can make for their child. These updated guidelines are consistent with those set forth by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the World Health Organization, and others,” said NYC Health + Hospitals Chief Women’s Health Officer Wendy Wilcox, MD, MPH, MBA, FACOG. “I am proud that all of our birthing facilities have achieved Baby Friendly USA designation, which means they have achieved the gold standard for helping birthing parents successfully breastfeed. Our wonderful mother-baby clinical teams address inequities in breastfeeding every day by supporting their initiation and sustainability. NYC Health and Hospitals champions breastfeeding during National Breastfeeding Month and throughout the entire year!”

As Past President of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Director of Pediatrics at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue for more than 45 years, I wholeheartedly support this recommendation for extending breastfeeding after the first year of the baby’s life, if desired by both parents and babies. There is strong evidence of its benefit both to the baby’s health and maternal health,” said NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue Director of Pediatrics Benard P. Dreyer, MD, FAAP. “We all need to support parents who want to extend breastfeeding, both in their workplaces and in health care, to make sure that all parents who want to extend breastfeeding have the resources they need to do so. We also must work to address disparities in breastfeeding rates throughout all the communities we serve as well as support gender-diverse families. On a personal level, my son and my son’s daughter were both breastfed well into their toddler years and my personal experience is a testimony to the positive effects of longer-term breastfeeding!”

“Breastfeeding is the best way to feed a newborn and is a baby’s first vaccine,” said NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island Chairman of Pediatrics and New York State American Academy of Pediatrics Chair Warren Seigel, MD, MBA, FAAP, FSAHM. “Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months and continued until 2 years of age or beyond, if desired by the mother and child, provides multiple health benefits to both. Policies that encourage and support breastfeeding are essential to support all of our families.”

The updated guidelines also call for more support for breastfeeding parents to help them meet these new recommendations. The breastfeeding initiation rate for the non-Hispanic White and Hispanic populations are much higher than for the non-Hispanic Black or African American population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C). Similar disparities are also seen among mothers with low-income, younger women, and those with a high school education or less. The AAP is urging the health care community to address implicit bias, structural bias, and structural racism to eliminate these disparities in breastfeeding and improve the health and well-being of all children and families.

NYC Health + Hospitals is dedicated to providing New Yorkers with high-quality, comprehensive health care regardless of immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or ability to pay. Each of our 11 public hospitals have been designated as “Baby-Friendly” by the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for providing new parents with the information, confidence, and skills they need to successfully breastfeed their babies.

Breastfeeding services offered at NYC Health + Hospitals include:

  • Breastfeeding classes (available in-person and online, as well as one-on-one and group settings)
  • Lactation consultants in postpartum units, as well as women’s health and pediatrics clinics
  • Hospital-grade electric breast pumps for parents whose newborns must remain in the hospital
  • Free personal breast pumps (for eligible parents)

Additionally, NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem and NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens are home to lactation pods that provide a private, comfortable, and sanitary space for parents to breastfeed their babies or pump breast milk. These pods are open to the public.

NYC Health + Hospitals/Community Care’s Maternal-Child Health program helps new and expecting parents and their infants stay healthy before and after birth with breastfeeding techniques and support. Home care nurses visit families at home to educate them about latching, different breastfeeding positions, and risks associated with certain medication use while nursing. The home care nurses also connect parents with resources, including breast pumps.

“We are proud that our home care program supports parents and infants on their breastfeeding journey,” said NYC Health + Hospitals/Community Care CEO Nicole Jordan-Martin. “We visit parents and infants in their homes and provide them with personalized family-centered care and support for a successful and rewarding breastfeeding experience.”

NYC Health + Hospitals’ health plan, MetroPlusHealth, offers breast pumps free of charge with a doctor’s prescription.

To learn more about obstetrics and gynecology services, including breastfeeding, at NYC Health + Hospitals, visit our website.

Contact: 212-788-3339; PressOffice@nychhc.org

About NYC Health + Hospitals

NYC Health + Hospitals is the largest municipal health care system in the nation serving more than a million New Yorkers annually in more than 70 patient care locations across the city’s five boroughs. A robust network of outpatient, neighborhood-based primary and specialty care centers anchors care coordination with the system’s trauma centers, nursing homes, post-acute care centers, home care agency, and MetroPlus health plan—all supported by 11 essential hospitals. Its diverse workforce of more than 43,000 employees is uniquely focused on empowering New Yorkers, without exception, to live the healthiest life possible. For more information, visit www.nychealthandhospitals.org and stay connected on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NYCHealthandHospitals or Twitter at @NYCHealthSystem.