May 22, 2009

Help save Cambridge’s lactation consultants

Cambridge Memorial Hospital is considering eliminating all outpatient and inpatient lactation consultant services, effective in July. Administrators say that their budget can no longer support keeping the LC’s on staff. The Cambridge Community Breastfeeding Group is arguing that in the long run this decision would add to hospital costs, an argument backed by at least one study which found each baby who isn’t breastfed costs the health system on average $1500 more than a breastfed child. Breastfeeding rates at the hospital are sure to drop if the LC’s are cut.

Breastfeeding promotion is one the most cost-effective health interventions, not only in the short-term of a baby’s early years, but in the long-term as well. As babies become adults, those who were breastfed are more likely to be healthy.

The Cambridge Community Breastfeeding Group has launched a campaign to keep the LC’s, and are asking that you write to Cambridge Memorial Hospital’s administration expressing your concern.

Please address emails to Stewart Sutley, Director of Performance and Accountability at Write your own letter or use INFACT Canada’s below:

Mr. Sutley,

I am writing to voice my concern over the possibility that lactation consultant services at Cambridge Memorial Hospital will be eliminated. I realize that the hospital has a limited budget, however breastfeeding help seems an unwise place to eliminate spending. Studies have shown that both in the long and short term, babies who are breastfed are healthier, and therefore place less of a financial burden on the health system. Breastfed babies are hospitalized less frequently than babies who are formula-fed, and are at reduced risk for conditions such as otitis media, necrotising entercolitis, and jaundice. Infants who suffer from these conditions will only visit further costs on the health system.

Without lactation consultant services at Cambridge Memorial Hospital, surely breastfeeding rates will drop and infant health will be undermined. New mothers face many obstacles to successful breastfeeding, and without professional, hands-on support, it will only be that much harder for them to initiate and sustain breastfeeding. Health Canada and the World Health Organization have both recommended that infants be exclusively breastfed for six months, with continued breastfeeding for at least two years. Cutting lactation services will make it harder to achieve these recommendations, and will negatively impact the health of Cambridge families.

I respectfully request that you deem lactation support at the hospital an essential service, and protect lactation consultants from any future budget cuts. I strongly believe that this is best for the long-term health of both Cambridge’s infants and the hospital’s budget.