National Association of Professional 
and Peer Lactation Supporters of Color

September 14,2017

STATEMENT ON INFANT FEEDING DURING DISASTERS

The National Association of Professional and Peer Lactation Supporters of Color (NAPPLSC) asserts the importance of promoting, protecting and supporting breastfeeding/chestfeeding, access to human milk, and safe formula feeding during emergencies. Emergencies – whether caused by conflict or natural disasters – are extraordinary events that can jeopardize the health and survival of large populations. Children, particularly small children, are the most vulnerable groups during emergencies, as they face a triple risk of death from diarrhoeal disease, pneumonia and undernutrition (Chan, 2009).  Supporting all individuals, families and communities to continue to exclusively breastfeed/chestfeed is essential, especially for our most vulnerable and oppressed populations: communities of color. 

Research shows that disasters have been known to disproportionately affect communities of color. Coupled with their baseline factors of social determinants of health, the aftermath of a natural disaster can cause subsequent short and long-term health outcomes, including death.  For example, when Hurricane Katrina, hit the gulf coast of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi in August 2005, the city of New Orleans population was 67% Black with 30% already living in poverty. 51% of deaths resulting from Hurricane Katrina were Black lives. Likewise, the mortality rate among Blacks was 1.7 to 4 times higher than among Whites for those 18 years of age and older (Brunkard, Namulanda & Ratard, 2008). 

Katrina, to date, is one of the top 10 costliest Atlantic hurricanes, leaving many communities homeless, as more than 800,000 housing units were destroyed or damaged in the storm, and more than one million individuals were displaced from their homes and communities (FEMA, 2017). The continued structural and institutional barriers cause communities of color to be more vulnerable during disasters as they may not be able to evacuate or seek shelter due the lack of resources. For example, of the 500,000 New Orleans’ residents, 112,000 did not have access to personal transportation to evacuate their homes and communities (Brunkard, Namulanda and Ratard, 2008). This includes those communities with undocumented immigrants (and families of mixed status) who are often faced with the choice to seek help and shelter or stay in their homes to avoid the risk of being detained or deported. Due to the lack of resources from the federal and local government, these communities live in neighborhoods that are oftentimes without the infrastructure to withstand environmental hardships such as flooding. In addition, communities of color face unique systemic barriers set up which implicitly render our communities susceptible to devastation. Moreover, the negative long-term affect on communities of color ultimately recycles systematic forms of oppression. 

Adequate response of food and clean water provisions, healthcare, etc. are often delayed and unorganized, further decreasing the positive impact that necessary interventions could have on communities. These already vulnerable areas are more susceptible to risk of exposure to toxic pollutants and unsanitary conditions. The harsh reality of the barriers faced in communities of color are indeed profound. To this end, as we disseminate resources, supplies and support, it is vital that organizations and volunteers give culturally relevant care and support to all families. NAPPLSC reinforces the importance of quality support, education and practice around providing human milk to all infants when available either directly from the lactating parent or an appropriate, verified donor source. In the event that human milk is not available, the next best source of nutrition in a disaster is to provide single-use, ready-to-feed human milk substitute. Separation between mother and infant, lack of resources, such as clean water, and the lack of knowledge of the community about how to safely feed an infant at this crucial time is dangerous. It will take all lactation providers and supporters across the field, in the health and community sectors, to provide quality care and guidance throughout the duration of the event and its aftermath.   

We stand in solidarity with our communities being impacted by disasters, such as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. 

It is imperative that all lactation support providers come together to support families during this vital time. NAPPLSC believes any and all resources to breastfeeding/chestfeeding families should provide an equity lens and center lactation care around being culturally-relevant and culturally-sensitive. NAPPLSC will continue to encourage, protect and support safe infant feeding and cultivate healthy communities of color!




As an additional resource on how to support families during a natural disaster please refer to the following resources: 

  • International Lactation Consultant Association’s (ILCA) Position Paper on “Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies,”
  • United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC)Position Statement on Infant/Young Child Feeding in Emergencies
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) module; 
  • Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies (IYCF-E) position paper;  
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Infant feeding in Natural Disasters and Emergencies;

 

This Statement has been endorsed by:


We hope you will add your voice and join us in raising awareness! 


Thank you to the organizations and individuals who have signed onto NAPPLSC's Infant Feeding During Disasters Statement!


Organizations:

Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute

Southeastern Lactation Consultant Association 

Northeast Georgia Breastfeeding Coalition

Baby CafĂ© USA 

California Advanced Lactation Institute 

BreastfeedLA 

Western Sydney University 

Arizona Breastfeeding Medicine & Wellness 

Mom2Mom Global

The Labor Lady, LLC 

US Lactation Consultant Association 

Doula My Soul, llc 


Individuals:

Aunchalee Palmquist

Adele McHenry-Koenen

Mia Roetherford

Norma Ritter IBCLC,

Crystal Nichole Drew

Laura Whitsett

Liane C. Varnes

Christine Staricka

Christine Staricka

Christine Staricka

Julia Mejia

Karleen Gribble

Elizabetn C. Brooks

Jeretha McKinley

Marissa Honey-Jones

Julie Brashear

Amy Barron Smolinski

Jamilla Walker

Dominique Gallo

Bryna Sampey

Tipper Gallagher

Rachel O'Brien

Audrey Thompson

Angela Granata

Jackie Brown

Lia McKernan

Natalie Minnick

Katherine Elizabeth Leppo

Kate Taylor-Young

Lara White

Erika Stiner

Jamie Taylor

Trisha McLaren

Elizabeth Herbs

Fiona Anne Stefanik



References:

Brunkard, J., Namulanda, R., Ratard, R., (2005). Hurricane katrina deaths, louisiana, 2005. Disaster Med Publlic Health Prep, Dec;2(4):215-23. doi: 10.1097/DMP.0b013e31818aaf55.

Chan, M.(2009). Breastfeeding: A vital emergency response. Are you ready? World Health Organization.http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2009/world_breastfeeding_week_20090731/en/ 

Datar, A., Liu, J., Linnemayr, S., & Stecher, C. (2013). The Impact of Natural Disasters on Child Health and Investments in Rural India. Social Science & Medicine (1982)76(1), 83–91. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.10.008

Davidson, T. M., Price, M., McCauley, J. L., & Ruggiero, K. J. (2013). Disaster Impact Across Cultural Groups: Comparison of Whites, African Americans, and Latinos. American Journal of Community Psychology52(0), 97–105.http://doi.org/10.1007/s10464-013-9579-1

Democracy Now. (2017). Hurricane harvey: Zip code & race determine who will bear burden of climate change.https://www.democracynow.org/2017/8/29/hurricane_harvey_zip_code_race_determine?mc_cid=0824e5dd34&mc_eid=5a542b5455

 US Census Bureau. (2015). Hurricane katrina 10th anniversary.https://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2015/cb15-ff16.html

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