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Dr. Susan Bodnar-Deren discusses partnering with local community organizations to improve rates of breastfeeding through the "ABC's of Breastfeeding" project.

December 14, 2017

VCU Sociologist Susan Bodnar-Deren works with local non-profit on programs to encourage breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding, despite its name, is about much more than the transfer of nutrients from mother to child. It’s a symbiotic period in the maternal relationship that benefits the health of both mothers and their babies for the rest of their lives.

The cells, hormones and antibodies in breastmilk help protect newborns from illness and can help a mother’s health and healing after childbirth, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Research shows that breastfed babies have lower risks of asthma, leukemia, ear infections, lower respiratory infections, and sudden infant death syndrome. Because breast milk is perfectly mapped to meet a baby’s nutrition, children who were breastfed also experience lower rates of diabetes and obesity. Additionally, mothers who breastfeed have lower rates of certain types of breast cancers, ovarian cancer, and Type 2 diabetes.

“The research shows that breastfeeding sets this foundational stage for all of us that were breastfed – we have these protections as we grow older. People think these protections are just in the first few months of life, but they’re lifelong advantages,” said Susan Bodnar-Deren, Ph.D.

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