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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: January 10, 2019 10:59 AM
From: Senator Kim L. Ward
To: All Senate members
Subject: Lactation Consultant Licensure
I am re-introducing legislation to provide for the licensure of lactation consultants under the State Board of Nursing.

There is no doubt breastfeeding has significant health benefits for both nursing children and their mothers. Studies have shown breastfeeding reduces childhood illnesses in breastfeed babies such as asthma, Type II diabetes, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and certain types of leukemia. It also reduces the hospitalization rate for lower respiratory infections among infants and babies. Mothers who breastfeed have a reduced risk of diabetes, ovarian cancer, breast cancer, coronary artery disease, and postpartum depression.

Breastfeeding also has an economic benefit not only to individuals but to government as well. Infant formula costs families up to $150 a month and it is the single most expensive item the Federal Women Infant and Children (WIC) program provides. WIC spends more on formula than any other food — $927 million in fiscal year 2010 alone. The health benefits of breastfeeding also helps to keep public health costs down through fewer hospitalizations and medical interventions in the life of an individual. For example, a cost/benefit analysis by North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force found providing reimbursement for appropriate medical lactation care services for Medicaid infants was a financially sound investment because it would save the state $2.3 million annually.

An increase in breastfeeding rates means a reduction in illnesses and government expenses. By licensing individuals who are specially trained and qualified to provide timely, safe, evidence-based support to nursing mothers, we can improve those rates within Pennsylvania. Far too many times a mother is willing to breastfeed but encounters obstacles in doing so and lacks the technical support to continue. Licensed lactation consults are not peer-to-peer mentors but healthcare professionals who sole practice is the delivery of lactation care and services. Their advice and support goes far beyond what physicians, nurses, and dietitians can give new mothers because of the lack of adequate education in lactation care and management among those providers.

State licensure of lactation consultants is necessary in order to give greater access to meaningful support for breastfeeding mothers so they can initiate and maintain lactation under a variety of normal and adverse health conditions. The Center for Medicaid Services encourages states to include lactation services as separately reimbursed pregnancy-related services but to do so for lactation consultants, they must be licensed. This typically means the coverage is only for a nurse who sees the mother ones in the hospital rather than for any services post-discharge that are many times crucial for the successful longevity of breastfeeding. Licensure will help to ensure properly trained lactation consultants are adequately recognized as part of the team of healthcare professionals who provide care to mothers and their babies.

This legislation was SB 763 of last session and co-sponsors were Vulakovich, Rafferty, Bartolotta, Regan, Schwank, Leach, and Killion.

Introduced as SB407