Good news about breastfeeding rates
Some good news to report about breastfeeding rates: they're up. According to the new CDC report card, nearly half (47.2%) of all babies born in the U.S. in 2009 are still breastfeeding at 6 months. That's a jump of about 2% from the year before and well above the rates documented in 2000.
The numbers are good all around:
- 47.2% were breastfeeding at 6 months
- Nearly 77% were breastfed at least once
- 25.5% were still breastfeeding when they turned one.
But, those numbers don't reflect exclusive breastfeeding. When it comes to that, only 16.3% of babies born in the U.S. are fed breast milk at 6 months. The numbers are better for those at 3 months (36%).
We know well the main reasons why people stop breastfeeding or breastfeeding exclusively. I've blogged about them many times:
- Many women have to return to work for financial reasons well before or at the 3-month mark.
- Too many workplaces don't provide a clean and private place to pump
- Many women lack the support needed to breastfeed
But, the Affordable Care Act could help overcome some of those barriers. Insurers are not required to reimburse new moms for many expenses, like comprehensive lactation support and counseling. Renting breast pumps and other lactation equipment is also covered, and, workplaces must provide nursing moms enough break time and a private place--other than a bathroom--to pump.
The top states for breastfeeding rates, according to the CDC state-by-state breakdown: Utah, Oregon, Vermont and New Hampshire. The worst: Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky and West Virginia.