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CDC says US not hitting 2010 breastfeeding, infant care target

Posted on Sep 14, 2:35pm

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The percentage of moms who breastfeed has risen since 1998, but is still remarkably short of the target for 2010.  The makers of infant formula Similac, "The #1 brand fed in hospitals- and the choice of more moms" provided the CDC with the initial baseline data which stated that while 64% of moms started breastfeeding, about half quit at the 6 month mark and only 16% continued to the WHO-recommended 1st year.  The CDC then set the goals for half of the women to be breastfeeding to the six month mark, and a quarter to follow the best recommendations for infant health.  New data shows that while those numbers are up, with 3 in 4 moms attempting to breastfeed, 43% continue to 6 months and 22% make it the full year.  But these numbers are a little deceiving.  While the Abbot Laboratories data didn't ask about exclusive breastfeeding, the government researchers did.  It seems that at 3 months, only 33% of moms exclusively breastfeed, and a mere 13% are feeding breastmilk-only at 6 months, neither of which hit the CDC's exclusive-breastfeeding targets.  The Pacific Northwest had the highest rates of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding, while the South had the lowest. View the national and state-by-state report cards here.

The CDC blames the stagnant low scores to a lack of support in the healthcare infrastructure.  They report that only 4% of infants in the US are born at UNICEF/WHO approved Baby-Friendly™ facilities (see link), and those facilities average score is 65 out of 100, with only 2 facilities scoring above 80.  To qualify as Baby-Friendly a hospital must commit to 10 steps, the majority of which include educating mothers and staff about breastfeeding and refusing to accept formula "donations."   

Remember, infants begin to lose the antibodies they accumulated through a shared blood supply at 3 months.  They rely on a specific immune system protein to protect them from outside invaders by lining their guts and mucous membranes, and they can only get it from breastmilk for another 9 months until the body starts producing those proteins on its own.  Breastfeeding is associated with lower rates of asthma, diabetes, obesity, and allergies.  

Center for Disease Control (2010).  "Breastfeeding Report Card—United States, 2010."  Published online 13 Sept 2010. 

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Awesome, Doc John! Very good stuff there, and very well done.
Christopher Maselli,

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