Nursing mothers find legal support in the workplace

August 1, 1998 also marks the start of the "Nursing Mother's Bill." The bill--introduced by Minnesota Senator Ellen B. Anderson, DFL, District 66, St. Paul--was passed by the Minnesota Legislature in April, 1998, four months after the American Academy of Pediatrics released its recommendations encouraging breast milk for the first year of life. The law states: "An employer must provide reasonable break time each day to an employee who needs to express breast milk for her infant child. The employer must make reasonable efforts to provide a room or other location in close proximity to the work area other than a toilet stall."

The AAP states, "Breastfeeding is primary to achieving optimal infant and child health, growth, and development." Research also indicates that breastfeeding can reduce a mother's risk of several medical conditions, including ovarian and premenopausal breast cancer; save a family more than $400 on the cost of infant formula during the first year of life; and reduce parental absence from work due to child illness. Despite these extensive findings, in 1995, only 59.4 percent of women in the United States were breastfeeding either exclusively or in combination with formula at the time of hospital discharge, and only 21.6 percent were nursing at six months.

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