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Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies

Coalition of Georgia

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It’s a LAW!

By signing HB 649, the Georgia Lactation Consultant Practice Act, into law, Governor Nathan Deal has improved access to clinical lactation care for Georgia’s mothers and babies. Georgia can significantly increase the initiation and duration of breastfeeding rates that have continued to lag behind the national average. We appreciate his leadership and vision in establishing Georgia as the second state in the country to license lactation consultants.

We are also extremely grateful for the leadership of Representative Sharon Cooper for carrying this bill. She understood the barriers to clinical lactation care, and she delivered the needed help. She was a courageous champion!

There is no dispute that breastfeeding improves the health of both mothers and babies. For the mother, breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and cardiovascular disease. For the baby, the benefits are profound. Breastfeeding reduces a baby’s risk of lower respiratory infections by 72%, asthma by 40%, obesity by 24%, SIDS by 36%, and the list goes on. In addition to improving these critical healthcare metrics, HB 649 will save significant healthcare dollars for the state.

Nearly 75% of Georgia’s mothers leave the hospital breastfeeding their babies, but only 19% are making it to the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of exclusively breastfeeding for six months. Mothers are failing at breastfeeding because of unresolved problems. Lactation consultants have proven clinical skills and knowledge for solving those problems.

We acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of many medical and community organizations across Georgia and the country. We had many partners laboring with us, including:

  • The Medical Association of Georgia
  • The Medical Association of Atlanta
  • GA American Academy of Pediatrics
  • DeKalb County Medical Society
  • GA OBGyn Society
  • Muscogee County Medical Society
  • GA Academy of Family Physicians
  • Richmond County Medical Society
  • American College of Physicians, Georgia Chapter
  • Georgia Rural Health Association
  • GA American College of Nurse Midwives
  • La Leche League USA
  • Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
  • Georgia Breastfeeding Coalition
  • Phoebe Putney Hospital in Albany
  • US Lactation Consultant Association
  • Voices for Georgia’s Children
  • Southeastern Lactation Consultant Association
  • WellStar Health System
  • Medical Association of Georgia Alliance
  • and a grant from Kaiser Permanente

We also thank the members of the General Assembly who voted for passage of this bill. It was truly a bipartisan effort. A link to all the legislators who supported it can be found here. Members of the General Assembly who played key roles include:

  • Senator Renee Unterman
  • Senator Nan Orrock
  • Senator Dean Burke
  • Senator William Ligon
  • Representative Sheila Jones
  • Senator Elena Parent
  • Representative Darrel Ealum
  • Senator Charlie Bethel
  • Senator David Shafer
  • Senator P.K. Martin
  • Senator Steve Henson
  • Senator Rick Jeffares
  • Representative Valerie Clark
  • Representative David Ralston

We look forward to working with Brian Kemp, Georgia’s Secretary of State and Georgia’s community colleges to grow the number of licensed lactation consultants in Georgia. This new law will draw people into the profession because licensure makes these allied healthcare professionals part of the clinical healthcare team.

With this law, Georgia is out front as a leader in maternal & infant health and in public health. We are so very pleased for the mothers and babies of Georgia.

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