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Leaders assemble in Washington for fourth annual summit on breastfeeding

Last week, maternal and child health and policy experts gathered in Washington, D.C. on June 5-6 to discuss “First Food: The Essential Role of Breastfeeding” and targeted strategies for advancing a national breastfeeding agenda. This was the Fourth Annual Summit on Breastfeeding organized by the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation as one of several partners.

“Our vision is that every baby has optimal access to mother’s milk. That it becomes the norm,” says Dr. Gail Christopher, vice president – program strategy for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, who welcomed attendees on the second day of the summit. “Many things associated with existing structural inequities can be mitigated by this natural process. There’s no longer any question that this should be happening. What’s missing now is a mass cultural shift.”

Over the course of two days, summit participants discussed the Surgeon General’s “Call to Action,” and how leaders can answer the call. Attendees considered breastfeeding challenges and opportunities from the perspectives of mothers and communities of color, and the role of social marketing in changing cultural norms.

Summit participants also explored the various roles of the insurance industry, state programs, medical schools, hospitals and clinics. They discussed the challenges of the National Prevention Council, which was created with the Affordable Care Act to shift the nation’s focus to wellness and prevention.

“Leadership at every level is needed to make breastfeeding a part of the fabric of our society,” says Karla Rubinger, executive director of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. “This summit brings together all kinds of people working on related issues to learn from each other, share ideas and make progress on breastfeeding actions.”

The summit concluded with a discussion of strategies for federal agencies, governors, mayors, commissioners, hospitals, clinics, communities, mothers and families, advocates, among others to build on recommendations, advance a national breastfeeding agenda, and ultimately, shift our culture.

For more information, visit: http://www.bfmed.org.

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