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Month: July 2019

1,000 Days’ Oral Comment for the Second Meeting of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments at today’s meeting. My name is Lucy Sullivan and I am the Executive Director of 1,000 Days, the leading nonprofit organization working to ensure that women and children everywhere have the healthiest first 1,000 days.

The 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s 2nd birthday are a window of opportunity to set the trajectory for a person’s lifelong health and build the foundation of a child’s brain and future potential. The first 1,000 days are also a time when food preferences and eating habits begin to take shape.

It is why we at 1,000 Days believe that the P-24 dietary guidelines can play a critical role in helping to build a healthier future for America. Not only are these the first-ever dietary guidelines for pregnant women and children under 2 in the U.S., they are the first-ever set anywhere in the world.

This is why the Committee must ensure these guidelines are based on the best, independent science and that these guidelines are protected from industry influence and interference. There is simply too much at stake for these particular guidelines to become a tool of private profit over public health. The integrity of these guidelines along with the transparency in the process to develop them are of paramount importance.

It is critical that the guidelines cover the following three areas:

  • First: Nutrition during pregnancy and lactation. This includes both foods to choose and foods to avoid and a message around eating twice as healthy, not twice as much. Expectant mothers want to know what foods are best for their health and their growing baby, not just nutrients.
  • Second: Consistent with long-standing recommendations from public health authorities such as the World Health Organization, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics, the guidelines must reinforce that breastfeeding is the best possible source of nutrition for infants and that infants should be breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, followed by continued breastfeeding to at least one year with the addition of appropriate, nutritious complementary food. If breastfeeding is not available, human donor milk is the next best alternative, followed by infant formula if neither breastfeeding nor human milk feeding are available. It is essential that the guidelines also speak to the extraordinary health benefits of breastfeeding for mothers—reducing their risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. Breastfeeding is also a key strategy to reduce America’s scandalous infant mortality rate. For example, breastfeeding protects against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), a leading cause of death among infants in the U.S., particularly black infants.
  • Third: Clear guidance on introducing a diverse diet of fruits, vegetables, meats and other complementary foods and the transition to the family diet.

We know that many Committee Members share our commitment to ensuring that every child in America has a healthy first 1,000 days and trust that the Committee will carry out their work with the utmost integrity and transparency. Thank you to all of the Committee members for their service and thank you for the opportunity to provide comment.

What We’re Watching in July

Returning from their Independence Day recess, we expect Congress to have a busy July before leaving for their annual August recess. Here are a few things we’ll be keeping our eye on this month:

Responding to the Crisis at the Border

Before leaving for their July recess, Congress passed emergency border funding. Since then reports have described unsafe and unsanitary conditions at facilities housing migrant children and adults: women held in rooms without clean drinking water, pregnant women without access to prenatal services, children without access to toothbrushes or soap and many people hungry and in need of health care. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General reported they found dangerous overcrowding among other serious issues. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has announced hearings on the Administration’s repose to this crisis. 1,000 Days urges the Administration and Congress to immediately address this crisis and ensure the safety, nutrition, healthcare and other essential needs of migrant children and their families.

Progress on Child Nutrition Reauthorization

Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) has again signaled that he wants to move legislation to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act, providing an opportunity to strengthen programs that serve moms, babies and young children such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). 1,000 Days will continue to engage Congressional staff and key partners to ensure the nutrition of young children is a national priority.

Recognizing the importance of global maternal and child nutrition

Improving the health and nutrition of women and children around the world is getting increased attention in both the House and Senate. Representatives Roger Marshall (R-KS) and James McGovern (D-MA) and Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Chris Coons (D-DE) have introduced resolutions recognizing the importance of continued U.S. leadership to accelerate progress ending maternal and child malnutrition around the world. In addition, Senators Collins and Coons have also introduced the Reach Every Mother and Child Act to strengthen U.S. efforts to end preventable maternal and child deaths in developing countries. We appreciate Members’ leadership on these issues, and we will continue encouraging their colleagues to join them as co-sponsors.

Momentum is building for Paid Family and Medical Leave

On both sides of the U.S. Capital, Members are looking more closely at the issue of paid leave. This week, the House voted to add an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (H.R. 2500) providing paid family and medical leave for federal workers. In Senate, leaders have formed a bipartisan working group to examine the issue. 1,000 Days will continue to urge Members of Congress to support paid leave for all workers, while also lifting up the voices and stories of our moms and their families to show the real-world impact of having or not having access to paid leave.

Next steps on Appropriations

The House of Representatives has passed 10 of the 12 bills needed to fund the federal government after September. Many of the programs supporting pregnant women, parents and their children in the United States and around the world saw at least level funding or were increased, including:

While we are encouraged by the House’s action, it is unclear what will happen in the Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KS) has indicated he wants the Senate’s appropriations markups to wait to until a budget agreement is reached among the White House, Senate and House. Without an agreement to raise the budget caps for FY 2020, many programs that support access to health and nutrition services for young children and families will face steep, automatic cuts. 1,000 Days will continue to keep a close watch on these budget negotiations and the impact to the programs that serve moms and young children.