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Health Officials Urge Md. Hospitals To Promote Breastfeeding

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(Credit AP)

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Christie Ileto joined WJZ's News Team in the fall of 2012. She was...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—If you’re a new mom or expecting, a new set of breastfeeding recommendations for hospitals may affect you.

Christie Ileto has more.

Maryland hospitals that deliver babies are being asked to have policies that encourage new mothers like Kayla Jones to breastfeed rather than use infant formula.

“We don’t recommend formula to the baby at this age,” said a lactation consultant to the new mom.

It’s just one of several recommendations made Tuesday by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

“So that everybody has the same message that we’re here to help families, here to help moms make the best choice,” said Department Secretary of Public Health Frances Phillips.

It’s a choice, Gay Bearzi at Sinai Hospital says, doesn’t always include infant formula.

“Breastfeeding comes first,” Bearzi said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most hospitals nationally don’t fully encourage breastfeeding. That’s something state health officials say they’re trying to change.

Other recommendations being made include immediate bonding between mothers and babies, stopping free infant formula distribution at hospitals and discouraging mothers from using pacifiers.

Sinai Hospital says they already had most of the new measures in place but will be making a few changes to their policy.

“A little bit more education to our staff,” said Bearzi. “We still give out the formula bags, and we’re in the process of changing that.”

Bearzi says these are simple changes to put the health of mom’s like Jones and her baby first.

“We all know this is the best things for the baby and mother, so if we’re all doing it, it just helps out everybody,” she said.

State health officials say the recommendations are optional, and if a mother decides to use infant formula, hospitals are being asked to provide information on how to prepare it and offer feeding techniques.

This is all in an effort to increase breastfeeding rates, which for Maryland hovers just over 70 percent.

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