|This is the third of a 5 part series on "Women's Health". Thank you to
Lebanon Family Health Services for their assistance with this series.|
|Family Health Services|
Ann Biser, Donna Williams, Kim Kreider Umble, Vicki DeLoatch
Friday, December 9, 2011
Breastfeeding provisions in the PPACA
In 2010, Lebanon County reported that 56.9% of all infants were breast fed at birth; this rate lags far behind the national average of 75% according to the Centers for Disease Control’s 2010 Breastfeeding Report Card. Furthermore, the CDC’s 2010 Breast Feeding targets were also to see 50% of babies still breast feeding at 6 months, the national average is 43% with Lebanon County’s breastfeeding average duration at 14.6 weeks.
While much research has shown the immediate as well as long term benefits to breastfeeding such as the development of a healthy immune system and a reduced risk many chronic diseases, there still remains many cultural barriers to women’s ability to breastfeed. Many of the cited barriers involve cultural acceptance of the practice.
Over the years, Lebanon Family Health Services has been working diligently with its clients to encourage, initiate and support their clients in breastfeeding as part of their WIC program, a challenge that is felt both locally and nationally. “One of our biggest challenges the staff faces is overcoming the myths surrounding breastfeeding,“ states Sara Wingert, a WIC staff member at LFHS. “They often express concerns that range from physical discomfort to issues of practicality, such as returning to work. We spend individual time with clients educating about the benefits and advantages of breastfeeding,” she concluded.
One of the essential benefits provisions under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Acts (PPACA) is now to support breastfeeding as part of the preventive care component of women’s health. All insurance plans must now cover breast feeding supports such as counseling, consultation with a trained provider and equipment rental for breast pumps. The bill also requires employers to provide reasonable breaktime for mothers who are nursing.
Like many of the provisions included in the preventive health component of the PPACA, the breastfeeding provision falls in line with current research in the area of public health. By increasing the number of infants that receive breast milk there is a risk reduction in acquiring many acute and chronic diseases such as GI infections, lower respiratory infections, asthma, obesity and diabetes. Therefore, in the long-term, reducing the healthcare costs associated with treating such conditions. It is estimated that 75% of national healthcare expenditures are spent on treating chronic diseases, many of which could be prevented or reduced by utilizing prevention practices such as breastfeeding.