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The Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta ruled in favor of a law that will allow certified lactation consultants to teach new moms how to breastfeed without the need for an advanced degree.

The tough licensing requirement was created in 2016 and mandated for consultants to obtain either one of the two predominant licenses: a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC)or the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). The law, which was called the Lactation Consultant Protection Act, would have prevented new lactation consultants from taking on paid opportunities unless they were IBCLC certified.

The historic suit was spearheaded by the Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE) nonprofit in Georgia that educates families on the breastfeeding disparities that impact communities of color. ROSE works to normalize breastfeeding by providing resources and networking opportunities for individuals and communities.

The organization was represented by members of the Institue for Justice (IJ), who helped to land the big legal victory.

“The Court recognized that keeping perfectly competent lactation consultants from doing their jobs doesn’t protect the public, but instead reduces access to breastfeeding care and violates constitutional rights,” said IJ Attorney Renée Flaherty in a statement. “Now, IBCLCs will have to think twice before pushing for more laws like this in other states.”

Kimarie Bugg, the founder of ROSE, gushed about the huge milestone.

“We took this on because of our passion and love for our community,” she told IJ. “It feels so amazingly good. We cannot wait to celebrate with our community.”

 

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Breastfeeding an infant within the first 6 months is incredibly vital for a child’s overall development, according to the World Health Organization.

Breast milk is packed with a wealth of energy and nutrients for children ages six to twenty-three months. “It can provide half or more of a child’s energy needs between the ages of six and twelve months, and one-third of energy needs between twelve and twenty-four months,” the agency notes. Breast milk also provides a great source of nutrients when illness develops in infants and it can drastically reduce mortality rates among children who are malnourished. In some third world and industrialized countries, young babies are at risk of mortality due to diarrhea and other gastrointestinal infections.

The breastfeeding maternal gap has to be addressed in order to ensure the happy and healthy future of babies around the U.S.  2018 data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 75.5 Black infants were breastfed compared to  85.4 percent of white infants.

Breastfeeding rates were statistically higher for Hispanic and Asian communities with 85 percent of Hispanic infants being breastfed compared to 92.4 percent of Asian infants. The agency noted that age and lack of health and educational resources for new mothers of color were some of the key components driving the glaring disparity.

For Black mothers, the decision to breastfeed is “not always an individual choice,” said Andrea Freeman, author of the book “Skimmed: Breastfeeding, Race, and Injustice.” Freeman told Healthline that she believes doctors may not offer information about the health benefits of breastfeeding to new Black mothers due to societal and historical reasons.

“They are not offered the same kind of assistance after giving birth,” she continued. “In fact, many Black women are offered infant formula to feed their babies, without discussing the health benefits of breastfeeding.”

Some Black women may opt not to breastfeed while others do so for a shorter period of time compared to women of other races, the article notes.

RELATED CONTENT: BLACK BREASTFEEDING WEEK: Black Women Have Been Doing It For The Culture Since Day One

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