Breastfeeding Rates Continue To Rise In The US
August 1, 2013

US Breastfeeding Rates One The Rise, According To CDC

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Breastfeeding rates in the US have continued to rise over the past decade, according to new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics released on Wednesday.

The agency reported the percentage of newborns breastfeeding increased from 71 percent in 2000 to 77 percent in 2010. Over that same 10-year period, the percentage of babies breastfeeding at six months of age increased from 35 percent to 49 percent, and it jumped from 16 percent to 27 percent for 12-month-old children.

Experts in the medical community tout breastfeeding as a way to potentially save billions of dollars in health care costs each year, Reuters reporter Yasmeen Abutaleb explained. It is also said to be healthier for both babies and mothers, which has led to hospitals to encourage women to stay closer together with their children after giving birth.

"Researchers and doctors often tout lower risks for ear and gastrointestinal infections, diabetes, obesity and other chronic diseases among those who were breastfed. It can also lower the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in mothers," Abutaleb said. "Breastfeeding could save more than $2 billion in annual medical costs if all recommendations were met, researchers calculated."

"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," CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a statement. He added that it was "critical" to continue working "to improve hospital, community and workplace support for breastfeeding."

The CDC also reported the percentage of hospitals that are launching efforts to help keep mothers and newborns together following birth are on the rise. In 2007, 30 percent of hospitals reported they allowed infants to "room in" with their mother at least 23 hours per day. That number increased to 37 percent in 2011. Furthermore, the agency said the percentage of medical facilities allowing newborns to have skin-to-skin contact with their mother following birth increased from approximately 41 percent in 2007 to over 54 percent four years later.

"The period right after a baby is born is a critical time for establishing breastfeeding," explained Janet L. Collins, director of the 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," she added. "These are meaningful steps hospitals can take to support mothers and families and help improve breastfeeding rates."

Earlier this week, a new study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics discovered a link between breastfeeding and babies' intelligence. As part of the research, the authors followed more than 1,300 mothers and babies between the years of 1999 and 2010, tracking which youngsters were still nursing after 12 months and then assessing the children's IQ levels at the ages of 3 and 7 via standardized testing.

The investigators discovered children who were still breastfeeding beyond the one-year point had higher language recognition scores at the age of 3 than those who had been switched over to baby formula. Furthermore, the breastfeeding group scored higher on both verbal and nonverbal intelligence tests at age 7, lead author Mandy Belfort, a pediatrician at Boston Children's Hospital, and her colleagues said in the study.