Data to Action Success Story: Louisiana

Louisiana: Supporting a Women’s Decision to Breastfeed

Problem Overview

Approximately 17% of children and adolescents aged 2–19 years are obese, and the prevalence among children and adolescents continues to increase.1 Studies show a small but consistent protective effect of breastfeeding on the risk of childhood obesity.2 Recognizing the link between breastfeeding and the prevention of childhood obesity, Louisiana PRAMS (LaPRAMS) collaborated with partners from the American Heart Association (AHA), Louisiana Council on Obesity Prevention and Management (LA Obesity Council) and Louisiana Breastfeeding Coalition to influence policy on breastfeeding practices at the state level.

Program Activity Description

With the overall goal to address obesity among children and adults at different levels, stakeholders and policy makers met to advocate for policy changes that support healthy food choices and physical activity to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. One of their initiatives included increasing the number of breastfeeding accommodations in state buildings because of the inadequacy of current workplace lactation spaces. With this initiative in mind, the LA Obesity Council united with the LA Breastfeeding Coalition in June 2009.

With AHA acting as a fiscal agent, collaborators participated in several meetings to determine areas with greatest potential for change. To substantiate the discussions and literature, LaPRAMS was added to the partnership. Analysis of 2007 LaPRAMS data on breastfeeding rates and reasons for not breastfeeding revealed that Louisiana mothers were well below the national average for engaging in breastfeeding practices with their new baby. Furthermore, most mothers perceived work or school as a barrier to initiating or continuing breastfeeding. By using the 2007 PRAMS data, the LA Breastfeeding Coalition developed House Bill 313 and the House Bill 313 Fact Sheet including background on the importance of breastfeeding, current breastfeeding rates in Louisiana, specific details on House Bill 313, and projected savings as a result of the bill.

Program Activity Outcomes

The LA Obesity Council presented the bill during the 2011 Louisiana Legislative Session where it was successfully passed. House Bill 313 will become effective July 1, 2012, and 10 institutions statewide will have until July 1, 2014, to construct suitable lactation areas for their employees.

The fact sheet presented displayed 2007 LaPRAMS data highlighting breastfeeding rates in Louisiana along with a comparison of state-level findings from PRAMS. This comparison, in conjunction with literature-based evidence and an assessment of the workplace environments as a barrier for breastfeeding increased the reception of the proposed bill.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011, April 21). Childhood Overweight and Obesity. Retrieved July 25, 2011, from Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity.

2 Arenz S, Ruckerl R, Koletzko B, von Kries R. Breast-feeding and childhood obesity—a systematic review. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 2004;28:1247–1256.