First Steps on the Path to a Healthy Lifestyle
Each month serves as an appreciation, awareness, and/or spotlight for a wide range of conditions, events, anniversaries, and other topics. August is the official awareness month for two topics that are incredibly important to the current and ongoing health of all children: breastfeeding and immunization.
Breastfeeding provides a vast range of benefits to children and mothers. It is included as one of the strategies to help achieve the United Nations’ millennium development goals to improve the health and livelihood of individuals worldwide. Breastfeeding helps establish and foster a strong, early relationship between mother and baby. Additionally, it provides the only needed source of nutrition for the first (approximately) six months of the baby’s life.
No two mother-child relationships are the same, and several factors will likely dictate whether or not a mother chooses to breastfeed her newborn. However, having a disability, or a child with a disability, should not serve as a reason against breastfeeding. In some cases, children with disability may actually experience greater benefits from breastfeeding than those without disability.
The La Leche League is an international organization dedicated to providing all manner of resources about breastfeeding to parents and health professionals. These resources include help and support services, online forums and podcasts on a number of topics, and the opportunity to interact one-on-one with other mothers and health professionals with expertise in breastfeeding. Additionally, it offers several resources on breastfeeding in instances where either the mother or child has a disability:
- Maternal Illness or Disability:
- Breastfeeding Babies with Special Needs:
To learn more about breastfeeding in general, and specifically breastfeeding and disability, visit any of their resources listed above. Or, if you would like to meet with a La Leche leader or group near you, visit their online directory. Don’t let disability keep you and your child from experiencing all of the benefits breastfeeding has to offer.
Another way to help ensure the healthiest lifestyle possible for your child is to get him or her immunized against a wide range of diseases. While certain incredibly rare adverse reactions to immunizations have been highly publicized, there is overwhelming research evidence supporting the concept that the benefits of immunization far outweigh the risks. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has done multiple extensive reviews, the latest in 2011, on any possible relationships between adverse effects and immunizations for the following conditions:
- Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)
- Hepatitis A and B
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Meningococcal disease
- Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis
All of the IOM’s reviews have found serious adverse effects to be incredibly rare. While the reports to not address the benefits of immunization, they seem to far outweigh the risk.
There are some minor side effects that are more common with certain vaccinations, but instances of vaccinations causing adverse health effects remain incredibly rare.
To learn more about the importance of vaccinations for children (and you adults, too!), check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Immunization Awareness Month Toolkits.
As always, if you have any additional questions or comments on either these topics, please leave us a comment below, or contact our information specialists via phone, email, or live webchat.