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The National Indian Health Board on Friday announced changes to COVID-19 guidance on Friday after a new report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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The University of Arizona Area Health Education Center Program is partnering with the Arizona Advisory Council on Indian Health Care to develop a center focusing on Arizona’s American Indian health system and its workforce.

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August is National Breastfeeding Monthso designated by the United States Breastfeeding Committee. Breastfeeding is also known as nursing. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for the first year of a baby’s life.

There are many oral and dental benefits for the baby.  Breastfeeding reduces the risk for Baby Bottle Tooth Decay also known as Nursing Bottle Mouth Syndrome.  This type of tooth decay often occurs when a baby is put to bed with a bottle containing formula, milk or fruit juice.  Babies as young as 10 months old have developed Baby Bottle Tooth Decay.

There are natural sugars in breastmilk, so it is important to begin to clean baby’s gums and eventual teeth in the first weeks of life.

The American Dental Association found that babies who were exclusively breastfed for 12 months or more were less likely to have teeth alignment issues such as open bites, crossbites, and overbites, than those exclusively bottle fed.Still, this doesn’t mean a breastfed baby won’t need braces someday. Other factors, including genetics, pacifier use, and thumb sucking, affect alignment.  But why not control those factors that you can control?

Breastfeeding is a healthy choice for both moms and babies, with many benefits, including a fast and strong bond between baby and Mom.

Breast milk and Baby:

  • Is easier for babies to digest than formula
  • Is the best source of nutrition for baby
  • Changes to meet the nutritional needs of a growing baby
  • Helps protect baby from infection and illness like ear infections by providing immunities from Mom to the baby
  • May lower child’s risk of overweight, obesity, and asthma
  • Can also help lower baby's risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Breastfed infants tend to have fewer speech problems than bottle-fed infants

Breastfeeding and Mom:

  • Moms who breastfeed have lower rates of ovarian and breast cancer
  • Moms who breastfeed have lower rates of high blood pressure
  • Moms who breastfeed have lower rates of Type 2 diabetes
  • Breastfeeding helps the Mother’s body return to normal and decreases blood loss after baby is born

The medical doctor will likely recommend that at about 6 months, baby can begin to have other foods. Experts recommend continuing to breastfeed baby for at least the first 12 months — and for as long as baby and Mom are comfortable.

Breastfeeding is natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. It is common to need a little help, especially in the beginning. The good news is that it gets easier with time.

To get ready to breastfeed, while Mom is pregnant, she can:

  • Talk to the doctor or midwife about breastfeeding
  • Do her own research
  • Ask family members for support
  • Plan for baby’s possible feeding schedule.  Realize that in the first couple of months, babies need to nurse every few hours, even at night 
  • Learn about breast pumping, especially if Mom wants other family member to be able to feed baby
  • Find out how to eat healthy while breastfeeding

Once baby is born:

  • Let the doctor, nurse or midwife know that immediate skin-to-skin contact with baby is important
  • Nurse whenever baby is hungry
  • Ask for help if breastfeeding is difficult

Breast milk is the perfect food for baby.  Breastfeeding gives Mom and baby a closeness that is delightful. The emotional satisfaction is so special and is so unique for each Mom and her baby, truly a time to be cherished.

Dr. Jessica A. Rickert is a tribal citizen of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. A graduate of the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, in 1975, she became for the first female Native American dentist.

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In the field of domestic and sexual violence, an advocate’s work bridges the gap between a victim-survivor and service providers. They help their contacts recognize abuse, assess the risk of danger and to plan for safety. They offer peer support, crisis intervention and assistance locating resources. Ultimately, the work of an advocate can be lifesaving. 

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Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has announced Dr. Donald Warne as their new co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health. He will also serve as Johns Hopkins University’s new Provost Fellow for Indigenous Health Policy.

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A study published on July 27, 2022 by researchers Noreen Goldman and Theresa Andrasfay shows a decline in life expectancy for Native American people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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After providing free meals for children nationwide from the onset of the pandemic, many families — including Native ones — will return to paying some or all of the cost of their school lunches, once a significant set of waivers ends September 30.

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Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that COVID-19 cases, including infections, deaths, and hospitalizations, are on the rise in the United States. Currently, 75 percent of counties are in the medium or high levels with Omicron BA.5 as the predominant variant, which has caused an estimated 78 percent of new cases. 

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Those who missed the Native American Nutrition conference, hosted May 23-25 by the University of Minnesota in Prior Lake, Minnesota, can now watch key speakers’ recorded talks online.

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On Friday, July 15, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez signed an agreement from the Navajo Nation Tribal Council to spend $1 billion to improve water quality, sanitation, housing, and communications infrastructure on the largest Indian reservation in the United States. The funding comes largely from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) with additional funding to come from an infrastructure bill signed by President Joe Biden in November 2021 that earmarked $20 billion for Indian Country.