Breastfeeding Rate Highest in Decades; Black Women Have Most Significant Increase, Report Finds
The number of new mothers who breastfeed their infants during the first months of life has increased to 77%, up from 60% in 1993-1994, with the sharpest increase among black women, according to a CDC report, the Associated Press reports (Stobbe, Associated Press, 5/1). The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that women breastfeed their infants exclusively until six months of age and breastfeed as a supplement to baby food until age one. Research indicates that formula-fed children have higher risks of ear and respiratory infections, obesity, diabetes and cancer, according to the New York Times.
The report, which is part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, is based on data collected in 2005 and 2006 for 434 infants. Researchers found that 65% of black women breastfed, up from 36% in 1993-1994 (Harris, New York Times, 5/1). Historically, black women have had lower breastfeeding rates than other groups, according to Former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher. Mexican-Americans had the highest overall breastfeeding rate at 80%, which increased from 67% in 1993-1994. Among whites, 79% breastfed in the latest survey, up from 62% (Associated Press, 5/1). Researchers also found that 57% of low-income women breastfed and that 43% of women under age 20 breastfed.
Satcher said, "It was very impressive that when it comes to beginning to breastfeed, [black women] have had the greatest progress" (Associated Press, 5/1). According to the Times, the increases can be attributed in part to campaigns by medical and governmental groups to educate women about the benefits of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding experts said that the findings are positive but stressed that breastfeeding rates at age six months have remained stagnant. The current report did not examine rates at age six months (New York Times, 5/1).
The report is available online.