First Lady Tammy Murphy, Department of Health, and Department of Human Services Highlight Success During National Breastfeeding Month

TRENTON– First Lady Tammy Murphy, the Department of Health, and the Department of Human Services today announced significant progress in New Jersey’s breastfeeding rates. In the recently released CDC Breastfeeding Report Card, New Jersey rates have increased in four categories since last year’s report.

  1. Ever Breastfed increased from 82.8% to 88.8%
  2. Exclusive Breastfeeding at 3 months increased from 40.6% to 43.7%
  3. Breastfeeding at 6 months increased from 57.6 to 60.2%
  4. Breastfeeding at 12 months increased from 36.1% to 38%

“Improving the health of New Jersey begins with supporting our mothers and babies,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy. “By providing information and resources on the value of breastfeeding, we are encouraging mothers who can breastfeed to do so as long as they can. Seeing breastfeeding rates improve signals a healthy future for both our young children and our mothers.”

"Breastfeeding helps boost the immune systems of infants and can reduce the risk of respiratory infection and Type 1 Diabetes. Mothers who breastfeed have lower risk of breast and ovarian cancer and postpartum depression,” said Acting Commissioner Marcela Maziarz.  “Breastfeeding support is an important strategy toward improving the health of New Jersey’s mothers and their children.”

“The benefits of breastfeeding are well known, so this progress is very encouraging as we work in multiple ways under the First Lady’s leadership to improve maternal and infant health throughout New Jersey,” said Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson. “This is another positive step for New Jersey’s health and wellbeing.”

The Department of Health also provides data on exclusive breastfeeding by hospital as part of its Maternal Data Center.

New Jersey currently has 14 hospitals with the Baby-Friendly™ Hospital designation including Inspira Medical Center Elmer, Capital Health Medical Center – Hopewell, Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Overlook Medical Center, Morristown Medical Center, Southern Ocean Medical Center, Our Lady of Lourdes, University Hospital, AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, Newton Medical Center, Chilton Medical Center, Virtua Memorial, Virtua Voorhees and John F. Kennedy Medical Center.

Breastfeeding is also promoted through the New Jersey Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. WIC offers breastfeeding classes and counseling. Women who exclusively breastfeed their infants receive the largest WIC food package to support their nutrition while nursing.

The New Jersey Department of Health, in partnership with the Department of Human Services’ SNAP-Ed program, is also spearheading the development of a Statewide Breastfeeding Strategic Plan in collaboration with the New Jersey Breastfeeding Coalition, Central Jersey family Health Consortium, and other internal and external partners. The plan will serve as a blueprint to coordinate government efforts and mobilize diverse stakeholders to improve the state’s breastfeeding rates. Priorities include increasing breastfeeding initiation and duration and increasing statewide lactation support.

The World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months with the gradual introduction of iron-enriched solid food in the next six months and for breastfeeding to continue at least one year and then for as long as mother and baby desire.

Providing breastfeeding support to New Jersey’s women builds on First Lady Tammy Murphy’s Nurture NJ campaign. Nurture NJ is committed to reducing infant and maternal mortality and morbidity and ensuring equitable maternal and infant care among women and children of all races and ethnicities. The campaign, which is devoted to serving every mother, every baby, and every family, includes a multi-pronged, multi-agency approach to improve maternal and infant health among New Jersey women and children. Nurture NJ includes internal collaboration and programming between departments and agencies, an annual Black Maternal and Infant Health Leadership Summit, the First Lady’s Family Festival event series, and a robust social media strategy to inform and raise awareness.