As the anniversary weekend of the derecho of 2012 recently was recognized, the West Virginia Breastfeeding Alliance would like to remind the public and emergency responders that infants and children are especially vulnerable and need special consideration during emergencies. Medical experts recommend inclusion of the protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding and safe infant/young child feeding in emergency preparedness policies and practices.
It is recommended to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding as the safest form of infant nutrition during emergencies. Breastfeeding provides not only the safest source of nutrition, but also protection against the many prevalent infections that occur, including the devastating diarrhea that accompanies poor sanitation and crowded shelter conditions. By keeping infants close, breastfeeding provides comfort, care, and security for the mother-child pair.
Although extreme weather conditions are rare in the Mountain State, flooding, power outages and water shortages are sometimes common occurrences. In these cases, the WVBA urges healthcare and emergency relief workers to encourage and assist women to breastfeed their infants during emergencies.
“In emergency situations, breastfeeding provides a critical safety net,” said Mary Boyd, MD.
“Research shows that infants are the most vulnerable in an emergency. Babies who are breastfed receive a safe, reliable food source that is full of anti-infective properties to protect them from disease.”