HB 649

The Georgia Lactation Consultant Practice Act (2016)

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 its initiation and duration rates of breastfeeding 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 is associated with a reduction in the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and cardiovascular disease. For the baby, the benefits are profound. Breastfeeding is associated with a reduction in a baby’s risk of lower respiratory infections by 72%, asthma by 40%, obesity by 24%, SIDS by 36%, and the list goes on.

Nearly 70% of Georgia’s mothers leave the hospital breastfeeding their babies, but only 25% 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:

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.