HEALTH

Surgeon general issues call to action around breast-feeding

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — Surgeon general Regina Benjamin on Thursday issued a “Call to Action to Support Breast-feeding,” outlining steps that can be taken to remove some of the obstacles faced by women who want to breast-feed their babies.

The announcement drew support from the American Academy of Pediatrics. “The AAP has recommended for decades that all mothers breast-feed for their child’s first year of life,” said AAP president Marion Burton. “Benjamin’s report adds increased federal attention to the importance of breast-feeding, identifying areas for continued improvement and building support for breast-feeding mothers across the country.”

While 75% of U.S. babies start out breast-feeding, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 13% exclusively are breast-fed at the end of six months. Rates are particularly low among African-American infants.

Benjamin’s “Call to Action” identifies ways that families, communities, employers and healthcare professionals can improve breast-feeding rates and increase support for breast-feeding. For example, communities can expand and improve programs that provide mother-to-mother support and peer counseling, healthcare systems can ensure that maternity care practices provide education and counseling on breast-feeding and employers can both work toward establishing paid maternity leave and high-quality lactation support programs and expand the use of programs that allow nursing mothers to have their babies close by so they can feed them during the day.

Breast-feeding protects babies from infections and illnesses that include diarrhea, ear infections and pneumonia, Benjamin noted. Breast-fed babies also are less likely to develop asthma, and those who are breast-fed for six months are less likely to become obese. Mothers themselves who breast-feed have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

A study published last year in the journal Pediatrics estimated that the nation would save $13 billion per year in healthcare and other costs if 90% of U.S. babies exclusively were breast-fed for six months. Benjamin added that, by providing accommodations for nursing mothers, employers can reduce their company’s healthcare costs and lower their absenteeism and turnover rates.

“I believe that we as a nation are beginning to see a shift in how we think and talk about breast-feeding,” Benjamin said. “With this ‘Call to Action,’ I am urging everyone to help make breast-feeding easier.”

To order printed copies of the surgeon general’s “Call to Action to Support Breast-feeding” and other materials, call (800) CDC-INFO or e-mail [email protected] and reference the publication title.

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McClellan named president, chair of Continua’s board

BY Allison Cerra

BEAVERTON, Ore. — Continua Health Alliance has appointed a new president and chairman to its board of directors.

The nonprofit said that Clint McClellan, senior director of market development at Qualcomm, will take on his new role this week. McClellan has represented Qualcomm on the board since 2009.

"We are excited to welcome Clint as board president as we continue our focus on creating and implementing solutions that lower healthcare costs and improve outcomes, as well as look at new use cases in both the traditional and mobile health spaces," said Chuck Parker, Continua Health Alliance executive director. "Qualcomm has tremendous expertise in the mobile personal connected health technology industry, and Clint has been a vital part of the Continua board."

In related news, Michael McGarry of Ascension Health was named as Continua Health Alliance’s board secretary.

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Government obtains permanent injunction against Deltex

BY Allison Cerra

SILVER SPRING, Md. — A permanent injunction was granted to the federal government Tuesday against a contract manufacturer and distributor of prescription and over-the-counter products, as well as two of its executives.

In a complaint filed by the Department of Justice in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, officials said that Deltex Pharmaceuticals and its president and VP, Kabir Ahmed and Mohidur Khan, violated the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by failing to obtain required approval from the Food and Drug Administration for its prescription drugs, as well as failing to comply with FDA regulations governing OTC drug products and current good manufacturing practice requirements.

In 2008, the FDA said it issued a warning letter to the company over its manufacturing of unapproved drugs and for deviations from cGMP requirements. Under the injunction, Deltex must comply with all federal requirements before continuing the manufacturing and distributing of its prescription and OTC products. 

"This injunction shows that the FDA will seek enforcement action against companies that are identified as being in violation of our manufacturing and drug approval requirements," said Dara Corrigan, FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs.

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