Southern Minnesota counties, local WIC agencies stress importance of breastfeeding in lowering childhood obesity rates

According to WIC and the Minnesota Department of Health, breastmilk has more anti–viruses, hormones, stem cells, growth factors, antibodies and other benefits.
Updated: Sep. 18, 2019 at 7:07 PM CDT
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FAIRMONT, Minn. (KEYC) — The Fairmont Baby Café welcomed mothers from the area to provide them resources and support for breastfeeding Wednesday morning.

The free walk–in class gives them the chance to meet with professionals, weigh their babies before and after breastfeeding and more.

Kaitlin Bormann, mom to 5-month–old Daniel, said she has benefited from the class.

“Just getting some tips on that has been helpful. We, since he’s a little on the smaller side, it’s been helpful to be able to weigh him," she said.

The class, which has been in place for about a year, is part of a wide-scale effort to let residents know that breastfeeding can lower childhood obesity rates.

“Studies have shown that it decreases the risk of obesity, cardiac disease, diabetes and postpartum mental health issues," said Public Health Nurse Patti Kasper.

The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding exclusively in the first six months and continued breastfeeding until 24 months or beyond, especially if children are overweight.

According to the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program and the Minnesota Department of Health, breastmilk has more anti–viruses, hormones, stem cells, growth factors, antibodies and other benefits than formula.

Fairmont Baby Café is not the only way counties and WIC are encouraging breastfeeding.

Briana Bastyr, a WIC coordinator for Le Sueur County Public Health, said the South Central Breastfeeding Coalition meets four times a year.

The state also joined a program called Coffective this spring, which aims to strengthen WIC’s relationships with birthing centers.

“We started with a survey for us, different local agencies and hospitals to see if they’re willing to collaborate with us with our programs, and actually, Mankato Hospital was one that completed the survey. And we’ve been working with them about breastfeeding," Bastyr said.

Mayo Clinic Health System has also been working with the Mankato Area Baby Café since it opened in 2017.

Breastfeeding initiatives in southern Minnesota can be especially important in WIC participants.

KEYC News 12 recently reported that the MDH found nearly 33% of WIC participants aged 2 to 5 were at an unhealthy weight.

RELATED: Minnesota Department of Health finds nearly one-third of children ages 2 to 5 in WIC Program are at unhealthy weight

So, I believe it’s a quote from the World Health Organization, but breastfeeding in that first four months allows these babies, all babies, regardless of their socio-economic status, a level playing field for the first several months of their life.

Bormann said breastfeeding was the right choice for her.

“We’ve come almost every Wednesday. It’s been just a good support for us," she said.

Fairmont Baby Café happens every Wednesday morning from 9-11 a.m. at Fairmont Elementary School.

Mankato’s class is hosted at the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota on Thursdays from 12:30-2:30 p.m.

You can search here to find a class near you.

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