Breastfeeding: A foundation for education success

By breastfeeding, parents also increase their chances of identifying any features of the baby's mouth which might lead to speech problems later. Tongue tie, where the skin at the base of the tongue may be large or thick, can cause problems both for breastfeeding and speech. With the help of an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), tongue tie is often identified early and the baby can be referred for treatment. Thus both breastfeeding and good speech formation are preserved.

In order for babies to get the benefits of breastfeeding, parents must receive accurate information and support in a timely manner. Many studies indicate that a significant number of women make initial choices about breastfeeding long before they become pregnant. Therefore, researchers stress, education on breastfeeding should begin in the classroom.

The New York State Department of Health responded to this challenge by creating a set of activities that incorporate breastfeeding into existing subjects in primary and secondary schools. The activities are tied to the New York State nutrition curriculum, although their use is voluntary. Dr. Mary Applegate, Medical Director, Bureau of Women's Health at the New York State Department of Health, said that the breastfeeding curriculum was developed this way to help normalize discussion of breastfeeding and infant care, even in the earliest grades. Since 1995, the curriculum has been requested from interested individuals and schools around the world.

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