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A historic summit between North and South Korea. Also on the Friday rundown: teachers continue their fight for funding; the EPA chief grilled on Capitol Hill; and remembering those who’ve lost their lives on the job.

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Report: Breastfeeding a Lifesaver for Mothers and Babies

New research indicates that the lives of 820,000 babies around the world could be saved every year if more mothers breastfed their babies. (Victoria Jordan)
New research indicates that the lives of 820,000 babies around the world could be saved every year if more mothers breastfed their babies. (Victoria Jordan)
February 17, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - If more new moms opted to breastfeed in Missouri, it could save more lives - both theirs and those of their babies.

New research in the medical journal The Lancet suggested that increasing the number of women who breastfeed could save 820,000 infants and moms around the world every year. Experts have said the primary reasons are the antibodies and nourishment that only a mother's milk can provide.

Michelle Devlin, a La Leche League leader, said it's a practice that is as natural as giving birth.

"These are naturally things that are in our bodies - and the way our bodies are made to work, that we're supposed to be protecting against these things," she said. "By breastfeeding, we are keeping those benefits and letting our bodies fill their biological norm."

According to the report, breastfeeding could prevent about 20,000 breast-cancer deaths a year in women. A small percentage of women are unable to breastfeed, while others report not having the support they need to do so. In Missouri, a mother can breastfeed a child in any location, public or private, and hospitals are required to give new parents information about the benefits of breastfeeding.

The World Health Organization recommends that hospitals practice "rooming in" - allowing mothers and infants to remain together in the hospital. The Missouri Department of Health encourages hospitals to adopt the "Show Me 5 Initiative," which includes 'rooming in' and teaching new mothers to breastfeed. Devlin said that initial bonding is key for long-term success.

"It's beneficial for babies to be with their mothers," she said. "They are able to respond to their babies' cues better, feel competent in their babies' care. And yes, it's definitely a huge help towards breastfeeding, because you have access to the baby, and the baby has access to the mother, right away."

Opponents of "rooming in" say it doesn't give the mother a chance to properly recover before bringing the baby home.

The recent Lancet research on breastfeeding is online at thelancet.com.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MO