Posted Aug 7, 2009

LaShonda Eaddy’s got milk.

It might have been easier for the 24-year-old Orlando woman to buy formula for her 3-month-old daughter, Jillian, but she knew there were certain health benefits to breastfeeding. Besides, her mother breastfed.

“I thought, it must be a good thing if she did it,” said Eaddy.

Breastfeeding is the most complete form of nutrition for infants, with a range of benefits for their health, growth, immunity and physical development, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are even health benefits for the mother.

“It’s amazing,” said Mary Ann Kotyk, a lactation consultant for new mothers at Florida Hospital. “It’s like giving a child liquid gold.”

Kotyk will join more than 1,000 lactation consultants from around the world this week at the International Lactation Consultants Conference in Orlando. They will review new research developments, including a recent study in the Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology that shows breastfeeding lowers the mother’s risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

For infants, Kotyk ran off a long list of health benefits: “Babies who are breastfed have higher IQs, better visual acuity, less eczema, less flu, less risk of gastrointestinal problems, less obesity . ”

A major advantage to breast milk is its ability to protect the baby from various infections. Kotyk, a registered nurse who works with mothers — and fathers — to promote and support breastfeeding, said more parents would forgo the formula and choose breast milk if they knew just how important it was to a baby’s health.

“The biggest difference between breast milk and formula is that breast milk is not just nutrition, it’s medicine,” Kotyk said. “Our neonatologists really want premature and sick babies to have breast milk.”

Although breast milk’s health benefits make it an easy sell for most mothers and fathers, in this economy it has also gained in popularity as a cost-cutting measure. The price for formula can reach $1,200 or more a year, said Kotyk.

Still, Eaddy admits there are a few advantages to formula.

“It would have been really easy and quick to just buy formula,” she said. “You have to nurse through the night. It’s not the most convenient for the parents. But it’s best for the baby.”

Friends, many who had breastfed, also encouraged Eaddy.

“They were all for (breastfeeding). Maintaining it became a problem when it came down to work. But that wasn’t a problem for me,” said Eaddy, an internal communications coordinator at Florida Hospital.

Florida Hospital, along with a growing number of large employers, provides a private room for working mothers to pump their milk and even breast feed.

Eaddy uses a double electric pump by Ameda at work. She said new hands-free pumping bras by manufacturers such as Easy Expressions and PumpEase are also quickly gaining in popularity among working moms.

“Any little thing that makes it easier for me to pump breast milk is worth it,” she said.

Congress is considering a bill which would protect breastfeeding mothers from workplace discrimination, require large employers to provide time and private lactation space for mothers, and provide tax incentives for breastfeeding-friendly businesses.

Both Kotyk and Eaddy emphasized the abundance of support for breastfeeding mothers. Many hospitals offer lactation consultants to get new mothers off to a good start. There are numerous support groups. And the Internet is full of information, forums, blogs and other resources.

Fernando Quintero can be reached at 407-650-6333 or

For more information

A number of Web sites offer information and resources on breastfeeding including the Florida Breastfeeding Coalition, La Leche League of Florida is part of one of the oldest breastfeeding resource and support organizations. Florida Hospital offers a breastfeeding hotline: 407-303-7650.

Research suggests the following breastfeeding benefits

For infants

Decreases chances of infectious diseases

Decreases mortality rates among infants

May improve baby’s brain development

Provides the right balance of nutrients for healthy development

For mothers

Reduces risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancers

Lessens osteoporosis

Promotes postpartum weight loss

Reduces risk of heart disease and diabetes

Date: July 24, 2009

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Copyright © 2009, The Orlando Sentinel, Fla.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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