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.