About a quarter of mothers follow the Academy’s recommendation to breastfeed exclusively for six months, a new report found.
“These rates suggest that mothers may not be getting the support they need from health care providers, family members, and employers to meet their breastfeeding goals,” authors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote in the 2018 Breastfeeding Report Card.
The Academy recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continued breastfeeding with complementary foods until the child is at least 1 year. Breastfeeding has been linked to a lower incidence of a variety of diseases and conditions in children, including respiratory and gastrointestinal tract infections, sudden infant death syndrome, diabetes, leukemia and obesity. There also are benefits for mothers such as decreased postpartum bleeding, earlier return to pre-pregnancy weight and decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
CDC researchers found that among babies born in 2015 in the U.S. or its territories,
- 83% started to breastfeed,
- 17% of breastfed infants received formula supplementation within the first 2 days of life,
- 58% were breastfed at least some of the time at 6 months,
- 25% were breastfed exclusively at 6 months, and
- 36% were breastfed at 12 months.
The rates meet five of eight Healthy People 2020 goals, falling short on any breastfeeding at 6 months, exclusive breastfeeding at 6 months and the proportion of breastfeeding infants receiving formula supplementation within the first 2 days of life.
The report also found about 26% of infants were born in a facility that provided recommended care for lactating mothers, and 49% of employers offer on-site lactation support, both of which surpassed Healthy People 2020 goals.
“We are pleased that most US babies start out breastfeeding and over half are still breastfeeding at 6 months of age,” said Ruth Petersen, M.D., M.P.H., director of the CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. “The more we support breastfeeding mothers, the more likely they will be able to reach their breastfeeding goals.”