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Colorado Celebrates the Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding has been shown to improve the health of newborns and can lead to higher IQs. (Getty Images)
Breastfeeding has been shown to improve the health of newborns and can lead to higher IQs. (Getty Images)
August 16, 2017

DENVER - August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, and today at Cole Park in Alamosa, an event celebrates nature's solution for getting newborns all the nutrients they need.

It's co-sponsored by Valley Wide Health Systems, where Katy Baer directs its Women, Infants and Children program. Breastfeeding is good for moms and babies, she said, explaining that it helps women lose weight faster after pregnancy and results in fewer incidents of childhood obesity, cancer and other illness.

"Infants who are breastfed tend to have sort of this built-in immunity that comes from the mother's milk," she said, "and there are many, many, many things that are found in breast milk that cannot be replicated in formula."

Unlike formula, mother's milk is free, Baer said, adding that breastfeeding also helps mothers and newborns bond. The connection leads to better body-temperature regulation, and breastfeeding also stimulates neuron activity, which fuels brain development and has been shown to produce higher IQs.

Colorado law protects the right to breastfeed in public, requires workplace accommodations for nursing mothers and also allows parents to postpone jury duty.

This year's Valley Wide theme is "Find Your Village," which Baer hopes will be a beacon to expectant and new mothers who want to learn more and access resources. She said families still face social and cultural barriers that stigmatize breastfeeding.

"Many women are just so unfamiliar with it because it's hidden in our culture," she said. "We need to kind of bring it out and make it more public, make it normal in the community."

Today's Alamosa event includes activities for children, and the Colorado Breastfeeding Coalition is planning its annual Breastival on Sunday in Denver's Cheesman Park.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO