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Moms, kids walk to promote benefits of breast-feeding

August 10, 2003|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Several area parents and their children walked a lap around the busy Chambersburg Mall on Saturday morning to raise public awareness of the benefits of breast-feeding.

The children carried signs stating reasons to breast-feed infants. A silent auction of items donated by local merchants was also part of the fund-raiser.

The World Walk, an international observance of La Leche League International, was held in conjunction with World Breast-feeding week, Aug. 1-7.

La Leche League International is a nonprofit organization founded in 1956. According to La Leche literature, the organization, based in Schaumburg, Ill., reaches 300,000 women monthly in 63 countries with breast-feeding information, education and support. Local groups are led by accredited La Leche League leaders - volunteers who have nursed their own babies and have learned to help other mothers with breast-feeding questions and problems.

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In addition to helping mothers, the organization offers professional education through its physician seminars, lactation consultant workshops and international conference. Its office houses the largest compilation of breast-feeding research in the world.

Walk coordinator Tracey Overcash of Chambersburg said the purpose of the local walk was "to educate the public that we have a unit in Chambersburg.

"We hold free monthly meetings and provide mother-to-mother support," she said. "Forty percent of the money raised stays in the community, and the rest goes to the national level."

The local group provides 24-hour phone support for breast-feeding questions and concerns, Overcash said.

She and her husband have three girls, ages 7, 5 and 3, all of whom were breast-fed.

According to La Leche, research shows that exclusive breast-feeding delays the return of fertility, has proven an effective means of reducing the death rate from childhood malnutrition and diarrhea in developing countries and supports optimal infant growth and development with many benefits extending well beyond infancy.

Breast-feeding provides significant benefits not only to infants but also in mothers, who reduce their risk of breast and ovarian cancer as well as osteoporsis, the organization says.

Although there is a revolving series of set topics for the local meetings, Overcash said anything can be discussed. Mothers attend with their children.

Meetings are held the first Thursday of each month at the Chambersburg Baptist Church on the corner of Second Street and McKinley Street from 7:15 to 8:15 p.m.

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