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Posted at 2:13 PM ET, 02/12/2011

Alexandria removes breastfeeding from indecent-exposure law

By Christy Goodman

Breastfeeding mothers no longer will feel more comfortable feeding their child in public places in Alexandria.

The Alexandria City Council unanimously amended their indecent-exposure ordinance Saturday to exclude breastfeeding. The council plans to pass a special proclamation later this month.

"In our efforts to be a more family friendly community, we have to take on all aspects of what that means, including doing right by moms," said Council member Rob Krupicka, who originally proposed the amendment.

The council member said the city should work on public education, because many businesses do not allow breastfeeding and studies have proved that public health-care costs rise for both mother and child if they do not breastfeed.

About 900 babies' lives would be saved if 90 percent of mothers breastfed exclusively for 6 months, said a May 2010 analysis in the American Academy of Pediatrics journal. The study also put the cost savings at $13 billion.

"This is really about the promotion of a healthy lifestyle," said Vice Mayor Kerry Donley, who said breastfeeding leads to improved nutrition and increased immunities for children.

A 2007 Inova Health Systems study said 43.5 percent of Alexandria's 2- to 5-year-olds were overweight, the worst in the region, said Brian Moran, Partnership for a Healthy Alexandria chairman.

"A healthy choice has to be an easy choice," he said.

Breastfeeding reduces respiratory and ear infections, some childhood cancers and the risk of breast cancer in mothers, said Gina Ciagne, director of breastfeeding and consumer relations at Alexandria-based Lansinoh, a breastfeeding products and support company.

"The burden is put on the moms to figure it out," she said. "Moms will do what they need to do to feed their baby ... she needs the resources and support from the community as a whole."

Ciagne said that Alexandria's law is a step in the right direction, but that it needs to be communicated to stop the harassment and shaming of mothers in public.

The city has policies in place, as well as some rooms available for their employees to pump or feed. Those efforts will be spread throughout the city's facilities, including pools and recreation centers moving forward, officials said.

By Christy Goodman  | February 12, 2011; 2:13 PM ET
Categories:  Alexandria, Christy Goodman  
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