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Breastfeeding Initiative by Local Healthy Start Partnership



A “Breastfeeding Forum” was held at Public Health featuring Susan Niedzielski, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and President of the Mohawk Valley Breastfeeding Network. This presentation was part of a continuing breastfeeding initiative developed by the Healthy Start Partnership in Herkimer County. 


The Healthy Start Partnership of Herkimer County is a coalition of health and nutrition professionals who are working to promote healthy weights in childbearing women and their infants. Agencies involved include Community Maternity Services, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Herkimer County, Herkimer County HealthNet, Herkimer County Public Health, Herkimer –Madison WIC, Mid-York Child Care Coordinating Council, and the Mohawk Valley Perinatal Network.


For three months earlier this year, Herkimer county residents were exposed to television ads, radio ads, billboards, posters and other strategically placed “interventions” highlighting the theme—Babies are Born to be Breastfed. Almost 69 percent of men and 46 percent of women surveyed there reported that they would be comfortable with having their child breastfed in public, up from 54 and 35 percent, respectively, before the innovative campaign began.


“The results in Herkimer County show that community interventions can create a social environment that is more supportive for breastfeeding," said Christine Olson, a professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell University. “Breastfeeding helps women shed pounds after childbirth, and reduces the risk of obesity in their children. This is a very strong beginning for the new Healthy Start Partnership.”


The breastfeeding campaign in Herkimer County was one of the first projects of the Healthy Start Partnership, which formed to promote healthy weights in childbearing women and their infants in the eight counties served by Bassett Healthcare. These counties are Chenango, Delaware, Fulton, Herkimer, Madison, Montgomery, Otsego, and Schoharie counties. 


“The Healthy Start Partnership envisions communities that promote and support healthy lifestyles for women, their children and all young families,” added Olson. “And with more than 40 health and nutrition professionals who have joined as members of the Partnership, we look forward to building upon the success of this project.”


In Herkimer County as part of World Breastfeeding Week, August 1 – 7, 2007, a follow-up letter and packet of information was mailed to health care providers in the county along with offering the Breastfeeding Forum. 


The Healthy Start Partnership is a $1 million, four-year project, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It is led by Olson and her colleague Nancy Wells, a professor of design and environmental analysis at Cornell. There is a Bassett Clinic in each of the eight counties and Bassett staff are Partnership members. Cornell University and the Research Institute of Bassett Healthcare collaborating on the evaluation of this partnership approach to promoting healthy weights in women and children. 


For more information on the Healthy Start Partnership and its projects in Herkimer and other counties, see or contact the Healthy Start Partnership c/o Herkimer HealthNet at 867-1552


Herkimer County HealthNet
320 N. Main Street Suite: 3300
Herkimer, NY 13350-1949 
Phone: 315-867-1552 



About HealthNet

The HCHN has been in existence since 1990. Its membership has continuously expanded and has served as an effective forum for Herkimer County providers to identify, discuss, and resolve health and social service issues and concerns. As a direct result of grants by the New York State Department of Health: Office of Rural Health, the Network significantly increased levels of coordination and collaboration among health and social service providers.

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