The CDC released a new breastfeeding report card [PDF] yesterday, reporting that 3 out of 4 new mothers in the now U.S. start out breastfeeding, meeting the Healthy People 2010 national objective for breastfeeding initiation for the first time.
However, rates of breastfeeding at other time points remain lower than the HP2010 objectives and have been stagnant for the past three years. The target rates are 50% at 6 months (currently 43%), 25% at 12 months (now 22.4%), 40% exclusively breastfed through 3 months (now 33.0%), and 17% exclusively breastfed at 6 months (now 13.3%).
Rates vary widely by state – for example, the percent of women who initiated breastfeeding was >80% in several Western states (California, Utah, and Washington, for example), but only 52.5% in Mississippi.
A CDC press release on the report emphasizes the role of hospitals in increasing the rate, with a CDC representative stating that, “High initiation rates tell us that a lot of moms plan to breastfeed, but these rates do not indicate that a birth facility is doing what it needs to support them in their effort.”
The release also notes that <4% of U.S. births occur at facilities designated as Baby-Friendly, a designation indicating that the facility takes steps to encourage breastfeeding initiation. Another CDC rep notes the importance of support in workplaces and communities; see these previous posts for our past discussions related to workplace and economic pressures and breastfeeding.