Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rep Ramsey says No Incident = No Change Needed?

Recently I received a reply to my letter writing campaign from Rep. Bob Ramsey (R). Here is what he had to say:
Legal did some checking on this. The statute was enacted in 2006 by HB 3582 by Lois DeBerry. It passed overwhelmingly, no amendments, no hang-ups. They talked with Judy Narramore since the bill went through Health. She doesn't recall any rationale for making it up to 12 months, other than that is when typically people stop breastfeeding. I don't see any reason why it would be a problem to remove the age restriction. I highly doubt that this is even a problem for any mother out there who is still breastfeeding after 12 months. If there are any incidents needing consideration, please contact your Legislative office and we will address it again. Thanks

I thought that deserved a reply of its own, so here's what I wrote. Feel free to write him and let him know how you feel!

Dear Mr. Ramsey,
I appreciate your time and effort into this matter. With recent news from neighboring states of mothers being harassed for breastfeeding their children in public areas, I would love to see the "12 months and younger" phrase removed from the statute.

With childhood obesity rampant in Tennessee, the first step we can to aid in healthier nutrition for our next generation. Breastfeeding can significantly lower the risk of life-long obesity.
With Tennessee ranking much lower than the national average on breastfeeding, we should encourage more mothers to do so. If a mother is faltering on the decision whether to follow her instincts and feed her baby the best way or wean, we, as a society, should promote breastfeeding, not put such a young age limit on it.

As part of the medical community, I know you are aware the health benefits for mother and child are numerous. I'm sure most people will agree that is not the issue.

This is a problem for me. I know several other mothers who also feel it is a problem. The age restriction is out-dated, and is refuted by the American Association of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization, both of which recommend breastfeeding until at least 2 years of age and as long thereafter as both mother and child are comfortable. By 12 months of age, it's true that most children will no longer require to breastfeed as often as an infant, but their need to nurse is just as important as a baby 12 months old and younger.

August 1-7th is World Breastfeeding Week. This would be a fantastic time to revist this statue and eliminate the age stipulation as it is no longer the norm. A bare minimum of 2 years is recommended by health officials. The American Academy of Family Physicians 2008 Position Paper on breastfeeding states that “breastfeeding at least until the second year of a child’s life is not considered ‘extended’ breastfeeding. Rather, breastfeeding until the bare minimum age of 2 years is the norm and anything less brings about detrimental consequences. With the current law, a mother may be compelled to wean prematurely, purely out of fear of consequences, thus having a detrimental affect on her child.

Please work with your constituents to normalize breastfeeding in our society so that our children and their children will not be faced by these issues.

Again, I thank you for your time and effort into this. I truly appreciate your hard work on my, and my children's, behalf.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tennessee State Breastfeeding Law Directly Refutes WHO and AAP

Please join me in writing to the TN state reps regarding a breastfeeding law that is outrageous! Feel free to personalize my letter below to your own situation.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Dear Sirs and Madams,

I am writing to contact all of you today about the breastfeeding law in Tennessee.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-58-101 et seq. (2006) permits a mother to breastfeed an infant 12 months or younger in any location, public or private, that the mother is authorized to be, and prohibits local governments from criminalizing or restricting breastfeeding. Specifies that the act of breastfeeding shall not be considered public indecency as defined by § 39-13-511; or nudity, obscene, or sexual conduct as defined in § 39-17-901. (HB 3582)
Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-1-305 (1999) requires employers to provide daily unpaid break time for a mother to express breast milk for her infant child. Employers are also required to make a reasonable effort to provide a private location, other than a toilet stall, in close proximity to the workplace for this activity. (SB 1856)
I applaud your efforts to protect the rights of mothers to feed their children as God and nature intended. I am currently breastfeeding my 32 month old son. I am very disappointed to see that the law that has been passed in our state discriminates against the right of a mother to breastfeed her child in a location where she otherwise has a place to be because that child has passed his first birthday. The exact portion of the law that I am referring to states:

"A mother has a right to breastfeed her child who is twelve (12) months of age or younger in any location, public or private, where themother and child are otherwise authorized to be present."

I feel that this age limitation is arbitrary and contradictory to the current recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, theAmerican Academy of Family Physicians and the World Health Organization.

"Exclusive breastfeeding is ideal nutrition and sufficient to support optimal growth and development for approximately the first 6 months after birth. Infants weaned before 12 months of age should not receive cow's milk feedings but should receive iron-fortified infant formula. Gradual introduction of iron-enriched solid foods in the second half of the first year should complement the breast milk diet. It is recommended that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mutually desired."

"The AAFP recommends that all babies, with rare exceptions, be breastfed and/or receive expressed human milk exclusively for about the first six months of life. Breastfeeding should continue with the addition of complementary foods throughout the second half of the first year. Breastfeeding beyond the first year offers considerable benefits to both mother and child, and should continue as long as mutually desired."
American Academy of Family Physicians Policy Statement

"As a global goal for optimal maternal and child health and nutrition, all women should be enabled to practice exclusive breastfeeding and all infants should be fed exclusively on breastmilk from birth to four to six months of age. Thereafter, children should continue to be breastfed, while receiving appropriate and adequate complementary foods, for up to two years of age or beyond. This child-feeding ideal is to be achieved by creating an appropriate environment of awareness and support so that women can breastfeed in this manner."
World Health Organization, The WHO/UNICEF Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes

I cannot find enough words to voice my displeasure at the direct refusal made by the state of Tennessee to protect the rights of a breastfeeding mother simply because her baby has passed her first birthday. The notion that babies should not be breastfed past one year is one that has been pushed by formula companies because most formula fed babies are switched to cow's milk at one year of age.
Our First Lady, Michelle Obama, is a strong advocate for breastfeeding. With her "Let's Move!" campaign, she hopes to eliminate obesity within a generation by promoting breastfeeding and healthy food choices to children. While obesity is a raging problem in Tennessee, ranking second in obesity rates of the United States, shouldn't we condone, not admonish, mothers who are feeding their children breastmilk which combats childhood obesity?
I am making a plea to all of you to correct this law to protect the rights of all breastfeeding mothers, regardless of the age of her baby. I appreciate your time and consideration in this matter. With an abundance of research in favor of breastfeeding beyond the 12 month mark, please revisit this law to aid in encouragement for mother's to continue nourishing her child without the discouragement from a law such as this, which is in direct opposition from national and world organization as listed above. Just because a baby passes the 12 month mark does not mean that he will not require to nurse any less than a child younger than him.

Thank you for your time and effort into this matter.