P.E.I. breastfeeding up, but below national rate

More P.E.I. mothers are breastfeeding, but the rate remains below the national average.

Province's breastfeeding rate about 73 per cent, 87 per cent nationally

Breastfeeding provides health benefits for both the mother and baby.

More P.E.I. mothers are breastfeeding, but the rate remains below the national average.

Since 2008 the number of P.E.I. mothers breastfeeding after they leave the hospital has gone from about 70 to 73 per cent, but that is still well below the national average of 87 per cent.

The Department of Health is continuing to look for ways to encourage breastfeeding, says Carolyn Sanford. (CBC)

Carolyn Sanford, manager of the reproductive care program with the Department of Health, said in general women are being more health conscious, and that is resulting in more women breastfeeding.

"For the baby, obviously, there's decreased risk of infections, allergies. Breast milk is so much more easier digested for the child," said Sanford.

"There's so many benefits for the mother too: protection from various cancers and protection for the child against childhood obesity and developing type 2 diabetes. Obviously it's quite cost effective and it's really good for bonding with mom and infant."

Chris Ortenburger, who helps run the La Leche League in the province, said it's good to see the increase, but that P.E.I. mothers still need more support in the hospital and community.

"It'd be great to see the province continue to recognize and recognize more so the value of having people like those lactation consultants," said Ortenburger.

Sanford said the Department of Health continues to work with Health PEI to find ways to encourage more women to breastfeed.

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