Students attending California State University, Northridge can now minor in human lactation.
The new minor option comes 10 years after the university began offering undergraduate lactation education courses – becoming the only university in the United States to offer students a minor in human lactation and preparation for a career as a lactation educator.
“It is exciting. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be in a university setting exposing college aged students to breastfeeding before they become parents,” said Merav Efrat, associate professor at CSUN’s Department of Health Sciences and program coordinator for the minor in human lactation program. “Not only am I contributing to improving breastfeeding rates by training future lactation professionals, I’m also helping these young adults develop accurate knowledge and more positive attitudes about breastfeeding before they’re parents.”
Declaring a minor in human lactation enables students to acquire knowledge and skills needed to educate and support breastfeeding families from the first trimester of pregnancy to beyond the infants first year of life. It allows students to have the foundational education necessary to function as a valued and respected member of the maternal-child health care team.
The minor will prepare students for careers as lactation educators. Lactation educators teach prenatal breastfeeding classes, rent and sell breast pumps, answer calls on breastfeeding information lines and provide one-on-one breastfeeding education to new mothers during their hospital stay.
Students who complete the minor in human lactation will complete a Lactation Education Accreditation and Approval Review Committee (LEAARC) recognized breastfeeding course, earn the designation of a Certificated Lactation Educator (CLE) and fulfill one of three eligibility requirements for the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) exam candidacy.
“Breast milk itself is such a unique property. When mothers breastfeed, it has a positive impact on both their own health and that of their baby. It also saves health care dollars and reduces infant mortality,” Efrat said.
In fact, a study by Bartick and Reinhold on the burden of suboptimal breastfeeding in the United States found that if 90% of US infants were exclusively breastfed for six months, at least $13 billion in medical expenses would be saved and a little over 900 deaths could be prevented.
In 2017, CSUN received BreastfeedLA’s Visionary Impact Award for its pioneering work institutionalizing lactation education in its undergraduate and graduate programs and training the next generation of lactation professionals. The new minor in human location is housed in the College of Health and Human Development.
“CSUN continues to distinguish itself as a visionary university offering the first minor in human lactation,” Efrat said.
An information session will be held on February 24. The time and place are to be determined. The topics covered will not only include information about the program but also the roles and responsibilities of a lactation educator and consultant, the credentials in human lactation and the steps to becoming an IBCLC.