Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A healthy baby begins with you

Above is a video produced by the Department of Health's Office on Minority Health, starring Tonya Lewis Lee, wife of Spike Lee. The statistics offered are sobering: black babies die at three times the rate of white babies in their first year of life.
Of course there are many ways to lower this number, including those mentioned in the video. Many black women don't get pre-natal care and aren't aware of the new recommendations that babies be put "back to sleep." But what about breastfeeding? Why wasn't this mentioned in the video as a way to save the lives of black babies? Not only does breastfeeding pass on mother's immunity to her infant, but it also provides a lifetime of health benefits to baby. We know that the risk for diseases and conditions like obesity, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes, heart disease and asthma are lower in people who have been breastfed and that these conditions affect the African-American community at a higher rate than any other.
I know Ms. Lee and the creators of this campaign are aware of the benefits of breastfeeding because during a recent event in Brooklyn, NY she spoke about the benefits of breastfeeding to both mothers and babies.
But more people will see this campaign than will attend a speaking engagement in Brooklyn. It seems sort of silly to not include breastfeeding in this PSA. I'm glad the Health Department is working on this very important issue, but I am disappointed with this effort.

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