Breastfeeding rates have continued to rise over the past decade, according to data released on July 31 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The percentage of babies breastfeeding at six months increased from 35 percent in 2000 to 49 percent in 2010. The percentage of babies breastfeeding at 12 months also increased from 16 percent to 27 percent during that same time period. The data show that babies who started breastfeeding increased from 71 percent in 2000 to 77 percent in 2010.
“This is great news for the health of our nation because babies who are breastfed have lower risks of ear and gastrointestinal infections, diabetes and obesity, and mothers who breastfeed have lower risks of breast and ovarian cancers,” said CDC Director, Tom Frieden, M.D. M.P.H. “Also, breastfeeding lowers health care costs. Researchers have calculated that $2.2 billion in yearly medical costs could be saved if breastfeeding recommendations were met. It is critical that we continue working to improve hospital, community and workplace support for breastfeeding mothers and babies and realize these cost savings.”
Hospitals are an important setting for supporting breastfeeding mothers and babies. The CDC reports that the percent of hospitals implementing key maternity practices that keep mothers and babies together after birth have also increased. The percent of hospitals reporting newborn babies that “room in” with their mother at least 23 hours per day increased from about 30 percent in 2007 to 37 percent in 2011. The percent of hospitals where most newborns were skin-to-skin with their mother after birth climbed from about 41 percent in 2007 to over 54 percent in 2011.
“The period right after a baby is born is a critical time for establishing breastfeeding,” said Janet L. Collins, Ph.D., director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. “Rooming in and skin-to-skin contact help ensure that mothers and babies stay together and are able to start and continue breastfeeding. These are meaningful steps hospitals can take to support mothers and families and help improve breastfeeding rates.”
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