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Go green by breastfeeding you infant
Health advice
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We constantly hear that the U.S. uses too much electricity and needs to be more creative in other sources of energy. We’re asked to think about our carbon footprints, to conserve water, to recycle and, if we have to rely on a car, to buy one with cleaner emissions and that gets better mileage than older, bigger models.
There are lots of ways to stay green, but there’s one way most of you haven’t thought about and it’s one of the best. Ecologically speaking, human milk is “green.” It’s a renewable resource and it’s all a baby needs for the first six months of life.
It requires no resources for packaging, shipping or disposal. No precious energy is wasted producing artificial baby milk and related products. No land needs to be deforested for pasture or crop production. It does not create pollution from the manufacturing of human milk substitutes, bottles, nipples and cans. It helps space babies by suppressing a woman’s fertility.
World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated in August and this year’s theme is Breastfeeding: Prepared for Life.
Jessica Gunsch, BellaOnline’s breastfeeding editor says, “Breastfeeding is a natural, sustainable resource and no doubt the best infant food in the world.”
Breastfeeding “factoids” from the La Leche League:
• Human milk has been shown to kill cancer cells in a laboratory dish and has been used in oncology.
• Mother’s milk has immune properties that can deliver a particular antibody in response to a new germ in the baby’s environment.
• Breastfed babies require shorter pre- and post-surgical fasting.
• Mother’s milk is uniquely suited to meet her baby’s nutritional needs.
• Breastfeeding decreases the incidence of dental cavities and the need for orthodontistry.
• Up to 50 percent of the iron in human milk can be absorbed by the infant, as compared to 10 percent in cow’s milk, and 4 percent in iron-fortified formulas.
Note: The incidence of H1N1 virus is increasing in Georgia and if you are currently breastfeeding, it is recommended that you take precautions such as washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand rub before feeding your baby. Infants are thought to be at higher risk for severe illness from novel influenza A infection and little is known about prevention in infants. If you are breastfeeding or giving your baby infant formula, a cautious approach would be to protect your baby from exposure to the flu virus in the following ways:
1. Ask for help from someone who is not sick to feed and care for your baby, if possible. If you are breastfeeding, someone who is not sick can give your baby your expressed milk. Ideally babies less than 6 months of age should continue to get  their feedings from breast milk.
2. It is OK to take medicines to treat the flu while you are breastfeeding.
3. If you are sick and there is no one else to care for your baby, wear a facemask and cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Placing a cloth blanket between you and your baby during feedings might also help.

Ratcliffe is a consultant to the Coastal Health District. You can call her at 876-6399.
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