Thanks to a W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant, a partnership is developing new ways to provide Michigan residents with the information and help they need to raise healthy families.
The $650,000 two-year grant will help support the work of the Breast-feeding Initiative (BFI), a partnership between Michigan State University, MSU Extension and the Michigan Department of Community Health: Women, Infants and Children Division (WIC).
Beth Olson, associate professor in the MSU Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and AgBioResearch scientist, is principal investigator for the grant. She and Jean Kerver, assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and Patricia Benton, MSU Extension program leader in the Health and Nutrition Institute, will team up to develop and pilot a new method for delivering the BFI program. The BFI focuses on increasing the breast-feeding rates among women living in low-income situations.
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Scientific and medical organizations worldwide recognize breastfeeding as a means to improve infant nutrition and maternal health, promote child development and reduce health disparities. U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin issued a “Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding,” and First Lady Michelle Obama has included breastfeeding in her campaign to reduce childhood obesity.
Here in our own state, Gov. Rick Snyder has proclaimed August 2011 as Michigan Breastfeeding Awareness Month. In his certificate of proclamation, the governor stated that breastfeeding provides an infant with the most natural and healthiest diet a mother can give and additionally benefits the mother as it helps to prevent breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis.
To celebrate Michigan Breastfeeding Awareness Month and to recognize human milk feeding as normal infant feeding, the Michigan State University Extension/WIC Breastfeeding Initiative (BFI) Mother to Mother Program will conduct walks for breastfeeding awareness. Breastfeeding families, friends of mothers and community members are encouraged to gather to celebrate Breastfeeding Awareness Month. A Breastfeeding Awareness Walk takes place on the MSU campus Aug. 2, 2011, from 12:10 p.m. to 1:10 p.m. The walk will begin at “The Rock” on Farm Lane next to the auditorium. Contact Pat Benton, MSU Extension health and nutrition program leader, at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. A number of other walks will take place around the state including one at the State Capitol in Lansing on Aug. 3, 2011, from noon to 1:00 p.m.
The MSUE/WIC Breastfeeding Initiative continues to be a strong program with more than 4,000 women enrolled in the program in FY 09-10 with 97 percent of those women initiating breastfeeding. Twenty-two percent of these mothers continued breastfeeding for 12 months, and 22 percent also exclusively breastfed for 6 months. During nutrition education in the homes, more than 11,000 program family members received nutritional messages from the BFI Peers.