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MCAH Breastfeeding Program Fact Sheet

 MO-07-0009 BFP


  • Breastfeeding will be the community norm for infant feeding in California for at least the first year of life in order so that all infants have the opportunity for optimal growth and development and mothers and their babies are protected from many diseases now linked with not breastfeeding.


  • In 2006, only 43 percent of California newborns were exclusively breastfed in the early post-partum period. Disparities in exclusive breastfeeding rates were found to be lowest for Hispanics (32%), African Americans (34%), and Pacific Islanders (41%). All were well below the rate for whites (64%) and the recommended Healthy People 2010 goal of 75%.
  • Very few health care professionals have received training or kept current about the science of lactation despite new published research on anatomy, maternal and infant assessment, effective breastfeeding interventions and the development of new community resources for referrals. 
  • Most mothers know little about breastfeeding and have little access to culturally appropriate breastfeeding information and lactation services.
  • Few hospitals have policies that effectively promote and protect breastfeeding.
  • Few workplaces, educational sites, and childcare centers support breastfeeding mothers.
  • Due to the lack of social and professional support, mothers have little confidence and fear attempting to breastfeed.

Program Activities

  • Expand the resources available to provide breastfeeding promotion, education and support through all Maternal, Child and Adolescent (MCAH) Branch programs, such as Black Infant Health, Comprehensive Perinatal Services, Adolescent Family Life, California Diabetes and Pregnancy Programs and the Regional Prenatal Programs of California.
  • Promote the development of healthcare policies, trainings and guidelines so that all programs, health care providers and hospitals support breastfeeding families.
  • Collaborate with Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Program to increase the level of community knowledge about breastfeeding utilizing the home visitor and peer education model.
  • Engage experts in the field to provide consultation and recommendations to the community.
  • Promote participation by MCAH partners throughout the state in local breastfeeding coalitions.
  • Collaborate with Medi-Cal, including its managed care plans, to improve access to equipment and support for the breastfeeding mother-baby couplet.
  • Maintain a breastfeeding webpage with evidence-based, up-to-date resources for health care professionals, government, private agencies and the public to increase their knowledge of the medical and psychosocial requirements of the breastfeeding couplet.
  • Utilize breastfeeding epidemiological information obtained from the Newborn Screening Form, Maternal and Infant Health Assessment, and the Women’s Health Survey to design, implement, and evaluate initiatives that provide effective breastfeeding interventions and reach individuals with the most need.

Who Benefits

  • The citizens of California benefit, as healthier women and infants have fewer medical expenses requiring hospitalizations and medications.
  • In addition, breastfeeding leads to improved maternal-child bonding, which leads to optimal early child-development and fewer educational and social costs in the future.

Who Provides Services

  • The state MCAH, and its local programs which include: local Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health Directors, Comprehensive Perinatal Services Program, California Diabetes and Pregnancy Program, Regional Perinatal Programs of California, Black Infant Health Program, Adolescent Family Life Program, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Program. To locate assistance in your area, please see our MCAH Directors and Local Toll Free Numbers Listing


Last modified on: 12/3/2013 11:55 AM