ST. LOUIS COUNTY – St. Louis County Public Health has received a Breastfeeding Friendly Health Department Award from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) for its contributions to the health of mothers and their babies. Representatives from MDH presented the award to public health staff at the County Board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 9.
The designation acknowledges a county health department’s commitment to acting as a model for the community by supporting healthy families and receiving the business benefits of supporting nursing mothers. The county was recognized at the bronze level.
MDH recognizes county health departments, workplaces, maternity centers and child care facilities that have demonstrated their commitment to supporting breastfeeding mothers. Breastfeeding is a foundational way to ensure that babies receive optimal nutrition during the first formative years of life. Studies show that infants who are breastfed have better health outcomes as they grow.
This is the second honor given to St. Louis County Public Health staff in just the last few months for their work to promote breastfeeding. The County’s WIC Clinics were recognized by the USDA in August for their Peer Breastfeeding Program. The program provides support from other moms and can help participants overcome potential barriers to breastfeeding. WIC staff also partner with the county’s maternal/child public health nurses who conduct home visits to mothers and caregivers and their infants.
“Breastfeeding is the standard for infant feeding because it provides essential nutrients and antibodies that boost a baby’s immune system; and it also delivers health benefits for new moms,” said Amy Westbrook, Public Health Division director. “So anything we can do to promote breastfeeding and to support new moms in their efforts, we know will pay dividends in the long term.”
MDH’s Breastfeeding Friendly recognition program is supported by the state Women, Infants and Children program (WIC) and the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP).