Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. Mr. Speaker, today I am introducing an important piece of legislation, the Breastfeeding Promotion Act with my colleagues Ms. Moore, Mr. Levin, Mr. Rangel, Mr. Grijalva, Mr. Cicilline, Ms. Lee, Mr. Conyers.
The health benefits of breastfeeding, to both mother and child, are significant. Scientific studies show babies who are breastfed the first six months of life have a greatly reduced risk for acute and chronic disease, yet only ten percent of all infants in the U.S. are breastfed.
A 2001 USDA study found that if just half of the babies in the U.S. were exclusively breastfed for six months (as recommended by the United States Surgeon General), our nation would realize a savings of $3.6 billion in health care costs for the three leading childhood illnesses alone. According to the United States Breastfeeding Committee, if we replicate that study based on current breastfeeding statistics, the savings could reach nearly $11 billion in health care costs for all childhood illnesses in a single year.
I was so proud to partner with Senator JEFF MERKLEY (D-OR) to pass into law a provision of our bill, the Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009 (H.R. 2819, S. 1744), in comprehensive health care reform legislation signed by President Obama on March 23, 2010. The provision requires that employers provide breastfeeding employees, who are hourly workers, with ``reasonable break time'' and a private, non-bathroom place to express breast milk during the workday, up until the child's first birthday.
This was a great success but more work needs to be done. Our bill will further encourage and promote breastfeeding by removing common obstacles to breastfeeding and expressing milk in the workplace that many women face. This bill expands the requirement under current law for employers to provide break time to express breast milk, as well as make reasonable efforts to provide a private place for them to do so, to salaried workers in traditional work or office environments.
Public opinion and awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding continue to grow, and the momentum we've recently gained presents the perfect opportunity to build on that progress in achieving our goals.
We urge all of our colleagues to support this important legislation. The health and economic benefits of breastfeeding are overwhelming and public opinion and awareness of these benefits continue to grow. We must ensure that working moms who choose to breastfeed have the support they need to do so.
We urge all of our colleagues to support this important legislation.