Recent articles published in The News-Times suggest that Georgia bans breastfeeding in public places. These articles show the need of informing the public about the laws protecting breastfeeding mothers.
Georgia and South Carolina, as well as most other states, have laws protecting public breastfeeding. Georgia Code 31-1-1 states, “A mother may breast-feed her baby in any location where the mother and baby are otherwise authorized to be” (1999). South Carolina’s law is more specific. The law provides that a woman may breastfeed her child in any location where the mother is authorized to be and that the act of breastfeeding is not considered indecent exposure.
The benefits of breastfeeding have been well-documented in the literature. It is beneficial to the breastfeeding mother, infant and the community as a whole. Children who were not breastfed have higher risks for a number of childhood infections and diseases.
For example, an exclusively formula-fed infant has a 100 percent greater risk of ear infections in the first six months than an exclusively breastfed infant. There are studies showing less obesity among children who were breastfed.
A report in the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding 2011 found that “if 90 percent of U.S. families followed guidelines to breastfeed exclusively for six months, the United States would save $13 billion annually from reduced direct medical and indirect costs and the cost of premature death.”
Mothers in Georgia and South Carolina should feel free to breastfeed in public. There are no laws anywhere in Georgia or South Carolina that would prohibit their right to do so. Without question, supporting breastfeeding mothers and children is in the best interest of all residents because of the significant health advantages for children and their mothers.