Mothers are encouraged to breastfeed their newborns because breastfeeding minimizes the threat of stomach viruses, respiratory illnesses, ear infections, and meningitis in infants. A study by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences showed that children who are breastfed have a 20 percent lower risk of dying between the ages of 28 days and 1 year than children who weren't breastfed. Breastfeeding can reduce a child's risk of developing certain childhood cancers, as well as many diseases that strike later in life, such as type 1 and type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and inflammatory bowel disease. And infants that are breastfed are less likely to become obese in later years.
The World Health Organization is encouraging hospitals and birthing centers to become “Baby-Friendly” by implementing policies that promote breast-feeding immediately after birth. Several South Carolina hospitals have received the designation, and other birthing hospitals in the state are working to meet the requirements.
Special recognition goes to the Medical University of South Carolina for creating the first human milk bank in the state. This bank provides breastfeeding moms a safe way to donate surplus milk to infants weighing under three pounds. The benefits of breast milk are important to infants fighting for their lives in neonatal intensive care units, but it is not always readily available. The donated human milk is screened and pasteurized to meet all quality standards.