The percentage of U.S. mothers who breast-feed their babies has reached the highest level on record amid mounting evidence that it provides many health benefits to the child, U.S. officials said on Thursday.
The percentage of U.S. mothers whobreast-feedtheir babies has reached the highest level on record amid mounting evidence that it provides many health benefits to the child, U.S. officials said on Thursday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 74 percent of American women who gave birth in 2004 breast-fed their babies, continuing an upward trend since the early 1990s.
"We've made quite a bit of progress," CDC epidemiologist Dr. Celeste Philip, lead author of a CDC report on breast-feeding, said in a telephone interview.
Breast-feeding rates just about reached the government's target of 75 percent, the report showed. But many women did not stick exclusively to breast-feeding in the first months after birth as recommended by experts, turning instead to baby formula, the report showed.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that women who do not have health problems exclusively breast-feed their infants for at least the first six months, with breast-feeding continuing at least through the first year as other foods are introduced. The CDC backs these recommendations, Philip said.
The CDC report found that among infants born in 2004, the rate of exclusive breast-feeding through the first three months after birth was 31 percent, shy of the government's goal of 60 percent, and through six months was 11 percent, below the government target of 25 percent.
The report detailed racial and socioeconomic disparities among women who provide their babies exclusively breast milk in these first months, with black, teen-age, rural, less-educated, lower-income and unmarried mothers less likely to do so.