RELEASE: Breastfeeding Equity for Mothers and Infants in California Hospitals - SB 402 signed by Governor Jerry Brown

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

 SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, October 9, 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 402 (De León), which helps achieve health equity for mothers and their newborns by requiring all perinatal hospitals in California to implement the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding” recommended by the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative.

“Low-income women and children are experiencing grave health inequities,” Senator Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) said. “I thank the Governor for signing Senate Bill 402 because all mothers who go into the hospital wanting to breastfeed should be given the same opportunities for success no matter their zip code.”

Although nearly 90 percent of California mothers enter the hospital intending to breastfeed, only about 40 percent leave the hospital breastfeeding exclusively. This is a health equity issue because many of the hospitals that have low or very low exclusive breastfeeding rates are in areas that serve low-income women. Exclusive breastfeeding rates increase when hospitals keep mothers and babies together in the same room; encourage feeding shortly after birth; provide staff with education for breastfeeding support; and avoid unnecessary formula supplementation.

Evidence indicates that early infant feeding practices can affect later growth and development in children, while significantly reducing their risk for infections and chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma and obesity. A 2010 Harvard study found that the United States would save $13 billion per year if 90 percent of infants were breastfed exclusively for six months.

In 2011, SB 502 (Pavley & De León) was signed into law (Ch.511, Statues of 2011). That bill implements step one of the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding” as adopted by Baby Friendly USA. SB 502 requires all perinatal hospitals in California to have an infant feeding policy in place by January 1, 2014.