georgiaAtlanta, Georgia – May 2, 2016 – Governor Nathan Deal has signed into law HB 649, the Georgia Lactation Consultant Practice Act, making Georgia the second state, after Rhode Island, to license lactation consultants.

The bill was supported by our GA AAP Chapter, The Medical Association of Georgia, Georgia OB/Gyn Society, Georgia Academy of Family Physicians and many others.

Federal law requires coverage for lactation services, but many insurance companies will only pay for the services of licensed healthcare professionals. Lack of insurance reimbursement has made clinical breastfeeding care prohibitively expensive for many. “We are grateful to Representative Sharon Cooper for working tirelessly to pass this important legislation,” stated Leah Aldridge, JD, IBCLC, president of Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia (HMHB). “This law will increase access to clinical lactation care for Georgia’s mothers and ensure the healthiest possible start in life for Georgia’s babies.”

 

Seventy-four percent of Georgia’s mothers leave the hospital breastfeeding, but only 19% are successful in meeting the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendation of exclusively breastfeeding their babies for the first six months.

Research shows that mothers who have access to lactation consultants have much higher initiation and duration rates of breastfeeding. Breast milk provides many health benefits to babies, including reducing the risks of obesity, type 2 diabetes, ear infections, SIDS, leukemia, asthma, gastrointestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease and deadly necrotizing enterocolitis.

With this law, Georgia is out front as a leader in maternal & infant health. Physicians, mothers, and other health care providers will now be able to identify and access qualified lactation consultants to provide services and protect quality of care.