Document Type

Master's Culminating Experience

Publication Date



Disaster situations in the United States are unique entities that require solutions which are well thought out, appropriate for the population and planned well in advance. Infant and young child feeding in emergencies is no exception. While in peacetime infants may be safely nourished with both breastmilk and infant formula, disaster situations often add a level of complexity to feeding with infant formula, including lack of access to potable water and ability to effectively sterilize feeding items. Such complexities, along with the important and undeniable fact that breastmilk is the ideal form of food for all babies (and especially in disaster situations), make breastfeeding in disaster situations of the upmost importance. Even when a mother is no longer breastfeeding at the time of the emergency, she may be able to re-initiate breastfeeding her child through a process known as relactation. For these efforts to be successful, however, it is vital for such women to receive extensive support, both from those closest to them, from lactation and medical professionals and from emergency first responders. Often, relactation can be achieved without medical intervention, making this an ideal way to feed even a previously formula-fed baby in a disaster situation.

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