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Breastfeeding, health care reform, and socio-economic status

For obvious reasons, I’ve been a little more attuned to breastfeeding of late (if you’re lacking context, baby Sarah is now 4 weeks old and deriving 100% of her nutrition via her mother).  The fact that there can still be such a stigma on the matter and that it can be so difficult for working mothers is quite frustrating.  I love the simplicity of an 11-year old.  When I told David that some people had a problem with breastfeeding in public, he responded, “but why?  That’s ridiculous!”  Anyway, I just learned yesterday that the health care law actually has some provisions to help out breastfeeding moms:

President Obama is asking federal personnel officials to draft “appropriate workplace accommodations” for federal employees who are nursing mothers.

The president issued a memo Monday to the Office of Personnel Management, asking for new guidelines to be published when ready.

The order is required by the new health-care reform law, which mandates new breastfeeding rights primarily for hourly workers in the private and public sectors. But Obama asked the federal govenrment to go a step farther by establishing new guidelines for all federal employees, no matter their status, according to White House aides.

Good for Obama!  On a quasi-related note, I was quite surprised that my son Alex’s speech therapist was surprised to learn of the strong link between breastfeeding and socioeconomic status.  Thus, maybe some of you might actually be surprised (if you’re not, the actual data is still quite compelling) to learn that breastfeeding goes up quite dramatically with education and income.  This CDC report (actually focusing on racial disparities) make it quite clear.

Table 1

Check out those percentages on non-Hispanic whites for education and income (poverty-to-income ration).  While less than half of women without a high school degree ever breastfed, almost 85% of college graduates have.  These numbers drop off a lot for breastfeeding at 6 months (the table is in the CDC article), the strong relationships still hold.

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