Code of the District of Columbia

§ 2–1402.81. Findings and purposes.

(a) The Council finds that:

(1) The encouragement of a public acceptance of breastfeeding is consistent with the promotion of family values between a mother and her child and no mother should be made to feel incriminated or socially ostracized for breastfeeding her child.

(2) Breastfeeding a baby constitutes a basic act of nurturing to which every mother and child has a right and which should be encouraged in the interests of maternal and child health.

(3) Breastfeeding provides significant health benefits to both the mother and child. Breastfeeding provides maternal protection from breast cancer, osteoporosis, urinary tract infections, and other cancers. Studies indicate that if every mother in the United States breastfed their children for 2 years, breast cancer could decline by 25%.

(4) Social constraints of modem society weigh against the choice of breastfeeding and often result in new mothers opting to choose formula feeding to avoid embarrassment, social ostracism, or criminal prosecution.

(5) Studies show that babies who are not breastfed have higher rates of death, meningitis, childhood leukemia and other cancers, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, bacterial and viral infections, diarrhoeal diseases, otitis media, allergies, obesity, and developmental delays. Breastfeeding may also raise a baby’s intelligence quotient.

(6) To attain an optimal, healthy start in life, the Surgeon General of the United States and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that babies from birth to at least one year of age be breastfed unless medically contraindicated. In addition, the World Health Organization and UNICEF have established the encouragement of breastfeeding as one of their major goals for the decade.

(7) Despite these recommendations, statistics reveal a declining percentage of mothers are choosing to breastfeed their children. Nearly 50% of all new mothers are now choosing formula over breastfeeding before they leave the hospital, only 20% are still breastfeeding when their babies are 6 months of age, and only 6% are still breastfeeding when their babies are one year of age.

(b) This part has the following purposes:

(1) To increase the incidence and duration of breastfeeding as a goal for optimal maternal and child health and nutrition;

(2) To enable women who so choose to freely breastfeed their children so that infants may be fed exclusively on breast milk from birth to 4 to 6 months of age;

(3) To further enable women to breastfeed while giving appropriate and adequate complementary foods to children for up to 2 years of age or beyond; and

(4) To create an appropriate environment of awareness and support so that women can breastfeed and thereby achieve an ideal child nutrition option.