Pennsylvania Department of Health Earns $822,739 Federal Bonus for Boosting Breastfeeding Rates Among WIC Mothers
HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 17, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Department of Health today received an $822,739 federal bonus for improving breastfeeding rates among mothers enrolled in Pennsylvania’s Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, program. Breastfeeding is known to provide lasting health benefits to babies.
“Breastfeeding rates in the Pennsylvania WIC Program have risen from 29 percent in 1995 to 50 percent in 2011,” said Dr. Eli Avila, Secretary of Health, during a visit today to the Family Health Council of Central PA, Inc. “Over the past year alone, rates have increased by 3 percent, making it the largest yearly increase in state history.”
The Department of Health is one of 15 state agencies nationwide to receive a WIC Breastfeeding Performance Bonus Award on behalf of the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). These awards, funded by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, are intended to recognize state agencies that have demonstrated successful breastfeeding initiatives. The department will use these funds to further promote breastfeeding.
“Improving the nutritional status of infants is a major goal of the WIC Program, and research has shown that there is no better food than breast milk for a baby’s first year of life,” said Patricia Dombroski, Administrator, USDA Food and Nutrition Service, Mid-Atlantic Regional Office. “This award recognizes Pennsylvania’s successful efforts to encourage WIC moms to breastfeed.”
The Pennsylvania WIC Program implemented a breastfeeding promotion and support program in 1992 and has since been committed to improving breastfeeding frequency and duration. The program includes staff training, provision of quality breast pumps, peer counselor support and an enhanced food package for exclusively breastfeeding mothers.
The health benefits of breastfeeding in children include a lower risk for conditions such as ear and respiratory infections, type 2 diabetes and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. For mothers, the benefits of breastfeeding include a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers, as well as type 2 diabetes.
The Pennsylvania WIC Program is a federal program operated by the USDA. WIC provides supplemental foods to meet the special nutritional needs of low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, infants and children up to five years of age.
To learn more about the WIC Program, visit www.pawic.com. Information is also available by calling 800-WIC-WINS (800-942-9467).
Media contact: Christine Cronkright or Holli Senior, 717-787-1783
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health