Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement on Breastfeeding & Use of Human Milk states the following:
Lactation and breastfeeding advice are everywhere these days. With so many sources and opinions — not all of which are reliable — consumers are understandably uncertain to whom they should turn to for competent advice about breastfeeding, lactation, or use of human milk.
As the public increasingly understands the importance of lactation support, some individuals without any formal education, training or expertise in lactation care are exploiting this recognized market.
Currently in Kentucky anyone can call themselves a lactation consultant, even with minimal training or without board certification. The public of Kentucky has no means of identifying a qualified lactation consultant and no protection from unqualified practitioners.
Unfortunately, patients and communities bear the physical, health and financial costs of navigating and receiving conflicting, confusing and often inaccurate lactation information. In too many instances, substandard practices and unqualified practitioners cause significant harm and even death when recommending or providing incorrect lactation interventions that are not scientifically validated.
The goal is public protection to ensure that citizens are able to identify and access qualified professionals who demonstrate the knowledge, skill and competency necessary to provide safe and ethical lactation education and counseling.
The USLCA urges broad understanding of the distinctions among lactation care providers. There is a common misperception that “all lactation care providers are equivalent” and for the safety of the public, it is important to clarify that they are not.
Families with educational needs can seek basic support, while those with clinical needs can receive specialized IBCLC care. This is similar to how nurse practitioners, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and certified nursing assistants work collaboratively in healthcare.
The depiction of equivalency between IBCLCs and counselors/educators poses a significant risk to the public.
Policies and laws equating counselor/educators with the IBCLC certification are dangerous and create risk for medical providers and patients. Medical providers who refer patients for clinical evaluation and management to someone not adequately trained can face liability for negligent referral.
Families are at risk if they seek care from someone whom they believe has the knowledge and training to handle complex clinical concerns but are assisted by a counselor/educator or a peer supporter.