Breast-feeding rates have continued to rise over the past decade, according to new data from the CDC.
The proportion of babies breast-feeding at six months increased from 35% in 2000 to 49% in 2010. The proportion of babies breast-feeding at 12 months also increased, from 16% to 27% during that same period. Babies who started breast-feeding increased in proportion from 71% to 77%.
This is great news for the health of our nation because babies who are breast-fed have lower risks of ear and gastrointestinal infections, diabetes and obesity, and mothers who breast-feed have lower risks of breast and ovarian cancers, CDC Director, Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said in a news release.
Also, breast-feeding lowers healthcare costs. Researchers have calculated that $2.2 billion in yearly medical costs could be saved if breast-feeding recommendations were met. It is critical that we continue working to improve hospital, community and workplace support for breast-feeding mothers and babies and realize these cost savings.
The number of hospitals implementing key maternity practices that keep mothers and babies together after birth also has increased, according to the data. The proportion of hospitals reporting newborn babies that room in with their mother at least 23 hours per day increased from about 30% in 2007 to 37% in 2011. The proportion of hospitals at which most newborns were skin-to-skin with their mother after birth climbed from about 41% in 2007 to more than 54% in 2011.
The period right after a baby is born is a critical time for establishing breast-feeding, said Janet L. Collins, PhD, director of the CDCs 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 breast-feeding. These are meaningful steps hospitals can take to support mothers and families and help improve breast-feeding rates.
Study data: www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/data/NIS_data/index.htm.
The CDCs 2013 Breast-feeding Report Card: www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/data/reportcard.htm.
More about CDC-led efforts to improve hospital practices in support of breast-feeding: www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding.