Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Workplace barriers contribute to low rates of breastfeeding. Research shows that supportive state laws correlate with higher rates, yet by 2009, only 23 states had adopted any laws to encourage breastfeeding in the workplace. Federal law provided virtually no protection to working mothers until the 2010 enactment of the "reasonable break time" provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This provision nonetheless leaves many working mothers uncovered, requires break time only to pump for (not feed) children younger than 1 year, and exempts small employers that demonstrate hardship. Public health professionals should explore ways to improve legal support for all working mothers wishing to breastfeed. Researchers should identify the laws that are most effective and assist policymakers in translating them into policy.

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