Organizations are invited to sign on to the below joint letter encouraging Members of Congress to support emergency funding for infant and young child feeding in the next Congressional COVID-19 response package. Please note: this sign-on form is for organizations only. The deadline to sign on for inclusion in the initial delivery of the letter is 3 p.m. ET on Friday, May 1. Following the initial delivery, additional organizational signers will be added to the letter on a rolling basis.
By completing the form at the bottom of this page, you are indicating that you have permission (and/or authority) from the organization to sign on to this letter. Please direct questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Members of Congress:
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has created seismic shifts in the infant and young child feeding landscape. We, the undersigned organizations, urge you to support $10 million in supplemental funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for infant and young child feeding in emergencies (IYCF-E) in the fourth Congressional COVID-19 response package.
Many facilities are routinely separating parents and newborns, even when COVID-19 is not suspected or confirmed. Moreover, families get discharged soon after birth, often with poor access to skilled in-person lactation support in their communities because of social distancing requirements and personal protective equipment shortages. The pandemic is compromising the initiation and establishment of breastfeeding, and it disproportionately impacts communities of color and those who are otherwise marginalized, further exacerbating disparities in breastfeeding rates and associated health inequities.
In responding to this crisis, it is critical that Congress support the First Food (breastfeeding) field in adapting to deliver lactation support services in the context of restraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ten million dollars in supplemental funding to the CDC would support community-level interventions designed to mitigate the impact of this public health emergency while building the capacity and resilience of local agents to implement community-driven programming that centers the needs of disproportionately impacted populations. These dollars would also support coordinated efforts to address COVID-19 related breakdowns in breastfeeding continuity of care and other policy needs that emerge during the pandemic.
Breastfeeding is a proven primary prevention strategy, building a foundation for lifelong health and wellness, and adapting over time to meet the changing needs of the growing child. The evidence for the value of breastfeeding to children's and women's health is scientific, robust, and continually being reaffirmed by new research. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of a range of illnesses and conditions for infants and mothers. Compared with formula-fed children, breastfed infants have a reduced risk of ear, skin, stomach, and respiratory infections; diarrhea; sudden infant death syndrome; and necrotizing enterocolitis. In the longer term, breastfed children have a reduced risk of obesity, type 1 and 2 diabetes, asthma, and childhood leukemia. Women who breastfed their children have a reduced long-term risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and breast and ovarian cancers.
Protecting and supporting breastfeeding is essential to ensuring critical food security and immunologic protection for our nation's youngest residents during this pandemic and beyond. To date, there is no evidence that the COVID-19 pathogen is present in breast milk, and the CDC continues to recommend breast milk as the best source of nutrition for most infants. American families and communities deserve a robust IYCF-E response that protects breastfeeding and ensures that infants receive optimal care and nutrition.
We, the undersigned organizations, urge Congress to direct $10 million in emergency supplemental funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Hospitals Promoting Breastfeeding program in the next COVID-19 package. This funding would be in addition to the $9 million baseline funding for this line item already provided through the Fiscal Year 2020 federal budget and $9 million projected for the Fiscal Year 2021 budget.
As Congress, you can effectuate immediate trauma-informed Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) relief for families and communities by equipping multi-systemic emergency interventions and ensuring funds reach those in need via:
Additional critically needed actions to address infant and young child feeding in emergencies include:
We call on your leadership to protect breastfeeding as a critical public health strategy as the nation addresses the coronavirus disease pandemic. Reengaging and bolstering best practices for maternity and postpartum care and breastfeeding support can help minimize and mitigate the growing concerns for malnutrition and prevent a grave backslide in a decade of public health gains in breastfeeding initiation, duration, and exclusivity rates.
Again, we urge you to support emergency funding for infant and young child feeding in the COVID-19 package. Given the consistent and well-documented health, economic, and environmental benefits of breastfeeding, this is an investment that will continue to produce measurable dividends across the country.
Thank you for your consideration of this request. For further information or questions, please contact Amelia Psmythe Seger, Deputy Director at the United States Breastfeeding Committee, at 773.359.1549 x23 or email@example.com.
The final version of the letter will be uploaded to this link: http://www.usbreastfeeding.org/d/do/3543
Please direct questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.