FACT SHEET ON NEED TO LICENSE LACTATION CONSULTANTS IN GEORGIA
The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding recommends licensure of lactation consultants “because the time has come to set forth the important roles and responsibilities of clinicians, employers, communities, researchers, and government leaders and to urge us all to take on a commitment to enable mothers to meet their personal goals for breastfeeding.”
Any proposed legislation in the state of Georgia would require lactation consultants be licensed to practice and would seek to establish a licensure for lactation consultants under an existing board. Only fully trained professionals with qualifications equivalent to that required by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) would be eligible for licensure.
Currently: Anyone can call themselves a Lactation Consultant, even with minimal training or without board certification. The public now has no means of identifying a qualified lactation consultant and no protection from unqualified practitioners. A family has no means of recourse in the event of a bad outcome from an unqualified caregiver. Licensure would assure consumers, employers, and other health care providers that they are engaging qualified professionals.
What is a board-certified lactation consultant?
International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) are allied health professionals. They are knowledgeable and experienced members of the maternal-child health team who have specialized skills in breastfeeding management and care. IBCLCs have passed a rigorous examination that demonstrates the ability to provide competent, comprehensive lactation services. IBCLCs work in a variety of settings including hospitals, clinics, physicians’ offices, neonatal intensive care units, human milk banks and private practice. There is no current equivalent to the IBCLC.
What does the IBCLC credential represent?
- One must have 300-1000 hours of directly supervised experience, an additional 49-90 hours of formal lactation education and pass a rigorous exam
- Recertify every 5 years with 75 continuing education credits or by repeating the exam
- Adherence to a defined scope of practice and within national standards
- Adherence to documented ethical principles and accountability for practice through a grievance process
Currently, only IBCLCs are held to these high standards of competency. IBCLCs are certified by an independent organization (IBLCE) that is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies
Why should IBCLCs be licensed?
- To protect the public by ensuring only qualified individuals can practice lactation consultation
- As of August, 2012, historic new guidelines will ensure women receive preventive health services at no additional cost including breastfeeding support. Georgia needs to move quickly to ensure these services are provided b y qualified, licensed lactation consultants.
- To improve Georgia’s breastfeeding initiation and duration rates according to Healthy People 2020 goals
- The US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendations mandate breastfeeding support services for private insurance plans beginning 2014
- The Joint Commission has implemented “exclusive breastfeeding” as a core competency measure for hospitals
- The American Association of Health Plans recommends the use of certified lactation consultants to reduce health care expenditures
- To supply an unmet need for lactation services in communities and health care systems
- To ensure breastfeeding as a preventive health behavior necessary to improving lifelong health of mothers and babies, thus saving health care dollars and infant lives
- Numerous studies have shown that women who interact with International Board Certified Lactation Consultants have higher rates of breastfeeding success
- Other health care providers have limited ability and time to support breastfeeding
- The National Business Group on Health recommends IBCLC support services be provided in employee health plans
- Businesses who provide lactation services for employees realize a 3:1 return on investment
- Like nurses, physical therapists, dieticians, and other licensed allied health care professionals; hospitals and the public depend on lactation consultants
- Licensing IBCLCs improves eligibility for third-party reimbursement. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding recognizes that lack of reimbursement represents a significant barrier to care, especially for families who cannot afford to pay out-of-pocket. IBCLCs currently are not credentialed to receive third-party reimbursement.