The 2010 Breastfeeding Report Card issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that more women than ever are trying to breastfeed. Recent CDC data collected in the new report card shows that a full 3 out of every 4 new U.S. mamas attempts to breastfeed her newborn. In fact, the United States has now met the Healthy People 2010 national objective for breastfeeding initiation. As you can see from the map above, in many states women are still breastfeeding at the 6-month mark. States featuring some of the best breastfeeding rates include Vermont, Oregon, Hawaii, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, California, Alaska, Washington and Colorado. The message that breastfeeding is the most healthy feeding option for babies must be sinking in. Sadly, like most report cards, this report shows that there’s room for improvement. Many states have truly abysmal breastfeeding rates and need major improvements, including Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and West Virginia. Keep reading to see what the U.S. is failing at when it comes to breastfeeding rates.
While it’s good news that more women are trying to breastfeed, the United States still has some major breastfeeding issues to work through. The 2010 Breastfeeding Report Card shows the following problems:
- Women in the U.S. are quitting breastfeeding before they should. The CDC report shows that rates of breastfeeding at 6 and 12 months, as well as rates of exclusive breastfeeding at 3 and 6 months remain stagnant and far too low.
- Although it’s recommended that ALL babies still be breastfed at six months, the report card shows that only 43% of U.S. babies are actually being breastfed at six months of age.
- Only 22.4% of U.S. babies are still being breastfed at 12 months of age and not a single state in the U.S. reached a 50% breastfeeding rate at 12 months.
- Nationwide health departments dedicate fewer than 2 full-time equivalents (FTEs) to support breastfeeding mothers and babies in their states. This clearly shows that breastfeeding is considered low-priority.
- More babies are being born at Baby-Friendly facilities. Unfortunately, these births represent less than 4% of all U.S. births.
The CDC report card shows that most mothers in the U.S. do want to breastfeed. But want alone often isn’t enough to sustain breastfeeding success, and that’s where the U.S. is running into trouble. Very few women get adequate breastfeeding support. Plus the CDC points out that mamas often face multiple barriers to breastfeeding, such as lack of workplace policy and public law surrounding breastfeeding. The CDC says that the following can help improve the situation:
- All birth facilities should provide adequate breastfeeding support.
- More hospitals should participate in the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.
- There should be laws protecting breastfeeding in public.
- There needs to be laws mandating support for breastfeeding mothers who return to work.
- Child care center regulations should support breastfeeding.
- State health departments need to be dedicated to the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding.
- Hospital practices and policies that interfere with breastfeeding are common and should be eliminated.
Lead image © CDC