THE WEEK OF AUGUST 1–7, 2018
World Breastfeeding Week takes place the week of August 1–7, 2018. This year’s theme is Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life, which highlights the importance of breastfeeding in a child’s development and health. Breastfeeding has become widely recognized as one of the most effective ways to ensure a young child’s health and development and clearly is worthy of our support and encouragement. Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Health Department (OCHD), adds that “the OCHD Women, Infants & Children (WIC) program is a primary sponsor of nutrition information for many in Ocean County.”
The WIC program is the third largest in the State of New Jersey, but the percentage of children breastfed who are enrolled in the WIC program is the highest in the state. “There are over 18,000 monthly clients in the Ocean County WIC program”, adds Freeholder Director Little. Pregnant women are encouraged to breastfeed, if possible, and needed support through the WIC program is always available to new mothers.
Daniel E. Regenye, Ocean County Health Department Public Health Coordinator, said, “Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants. It has a nearly perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat; everything necessary for your baby’s growth. It is also more easily digested by an infant than formula. Breast milk contains antibodies from the mother that helps your baby fight off certain infections. Breastfeeding also lowers your baby’s risk of having asthma or allergies. Plus, babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea. They also have fewer hospitalizations and trips to the doctor. It is also believed that breastfeeding plays a role in the prevention of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).”
Regenye added, “The OCHD WIC program works diligently to promote and support breastfeeding and again, offers breastfeeding support every day of the week for the new moms who use our services.” Breast milk is perfectly designed for the child’s nutritional and immunological needs. Breastfeeding is a natural and optimal way of feeding children and promotes bonding between mother and child, regardless of setting. Although global initiation rates are relatively high, only 40% of all babies under 6 months of age are exclusively breastfed and there are large regional and in-country variations in breastfeeding rates. Scaling up optimal breastfeeding could prevent more than 823,000 child and 20,000 maternal deaths each year according to reports from the World Health Organization.
Please visit the OCHD website at www.ochd.org or connect with the Health Department’s Public Health is You Too! campaign at www.phu2.org to find out simple steps you can take to improve “Public Health” in Ocean County. For those who have questions or to see if they are eligible for WIC services, please contact the WIC Program at 732-341-9700, ext. 7520 in Toms River, 732-370-0122 in Lakewood, or 609-978-2500 in Manahawkin.