Testimony by TMA and the Texas Pediatric Society
House Business and Industry Committee
House Bill 786 by Rep. Armando Walle
March 17, 2015
On behalf of the 48,000 physician and medical student members of the Texas Medical Association and the Texas Pediatric Society, we would like to thank Representative Walle for filing House Bill 786 to promote and support breastfeeding in Texas. We believe this legislation addresses common barriers mothers face to continuous breastfeeding of their infants.
Milk is a nutritionally complete food and is the only food that newborns need for at least the first six months of life. Breast milk contains unique cells, hormones, and antibodies that protect babies from illness and promote development of a strong immune system. Breastfed babies have greater resistance to disease and infection. They also have less frequent occurrence of gastrointestinal infections, lower incidence of lower respiratory tract disease, and reduced risk of obesity in adulthood, among many other health benefits.
Physicians support continuous breastfeeding for at least one year for the optimal health and development of infants and children. But while almost 80 percent of Texas women start to breastfeed their baby, only 16 percent exclusively breastfeed until their baby is six months old. We can do more to promote breastfeeding in Texas. We can build on the policies already in place in Texas to support women’s rights to breastfeed.
Most Texas women are employed outside their home, and employers must be encouraged to provide worksite accommodations for their breastfeeding employees. Texas is not alone in this effort. Forty-six states have laws that allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location, and at least five of these states provide recourse in the case of discrimination. Another 17 states already have adopted worksite accommodation laws more expansive than current federal requirements.
We support HB 786, which provides direction on accommodations for breastfeeding by public employees. This legislation would help thousands of working women.
A woman’s choice to breastfeed benefits her child, her family, and the community. HB 786 builds upon the state’s commitment to support the health and well-being of mothers and their babies. The Texas Legislature has been a champion of the rights of breastfeeding mothers. We appreciate and applaud HB 786 as another important step in support of breastfeeding in Texas.
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