ATLANTA -- About 30% of babies born in the U.S. in 2004 were exclusively breastfed for the first three months and by six months only 11.3% of babies were exclusively breastfed, CDC investigators found.
ATLANTA, Aug. 3 -- About 30% of babies born in the U.S. in 2004 were exclusively breastfed for the first three months and by six months only 11.3% of babies were exclusively breastfed, CDC investigators found.
That's far short of the national goal, as stated in the 2007 update to Healthy People 2010, which calls for 60% of babies to be exclusively breastfed for the first three months of life and that 25% will have that diet maintained for six months.
But, 73.8% of babies did get some breast milk as well as formula in those first three months, noted Kelley S. Scanlon, Ph.D., and colleagues from the CDC. That's up three percentage points from 2000 numbers, they reported in the August 3 issue of Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report.
The increase in breastfeeding was good news, said William H. Dietz, M.D., Ph.D., director of the CDC's division of nutrition, physical activity, and obesity. But, he said, it is "still quite alarming that mothers and infants are not receiving the full health benefits associated with exclusive breastfeeding."
Babies who are exclusively breastfed have fewer lower respiratory infections, less obesity, less eczema, and fewer middle ear infections compared with formula-fed babies.
Dr. Scanlon and colleagues analyzed breastfeeding data from the National Immunization Survey, a random digit dial phone survey of parents of children born from 2000 through 2004. The 2004 breast feeding rates were based on a weighted sample of 17,654 infants born in 2004.
The analysis found that exclusive breastfeeding for three months was more common among older, better-educated, higher-income women who were married.
Among the findings:
The MMWR editors noted that this was not the first study to report a significantly lower rate of breastfeeding among black mothers.
They said explanations for this observation include factors "such as economic pressures to return to work environments that do not support breastfeeding, lack of breastfeeding education and supportive social networks, aggressive marketing by formula manufacturers, and cultural environments that do not value breastfeeding or promote positive images of breastfeeding women."
By contrast interventions such as "the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative" in which hospitals adopt 10 practices that encourage breastfeeding have been successful, according to the editors.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers exclusively breast feed infants for the first six months and continue breastfeeding through 12 months as other foods are introduced.