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CDC: Breast-feeding on the rise; could contribute to lowering overall healthcare costs, director says


ATLANTA — Breast-feeding rates have continued to rise over the past decade, according to data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The percent of babies breast-feeding at six months increased from 35% in 2000 to 49% in 2010. The percent of babies breast-feeding at 12 months also increased from 16% to 27% during that same time period. 

The data show that babies who started breast-feeding increased from 71% in 2000 to 77% in 2010.

“This is great news for the health of our nation because babies who are breast-fed have lower risks of ear and gastrointestinal infections, diabetes and obesity, and mothers who breast-feed have lower risks of breast and ovarian cancers,” stated CDC Director, Tom Frieden. “Also, breast-feeding lowers healthcare costs. Researchers have calculated that $2.2 billion in yearly medical costs could be saved if breast-feeding recommendations were met. It is critical that we continue working to improve hospital, community and workplace support for breast-feeding mothers and babies and realize these cost savings.”

The CDC reported that the percent of hospitals implementing key maternity practices that keep mothers and babies together after birth has also increased. The percent of hospitals reporting newborn babies that ‘room in’ with their mother at least 23 hours per day increased from about 30% in 2007 to 37% in 2011. The percent of hospitals where most newborns were skin-to-skin with their mother after birth climbed from about 41% in 2007 to over 54% in 2011.

“The period right after a baby is born is a critical time for establishing breast-feeding,” stated Janet Collins, director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity. “Rooming in and skin-to-skin contact help ensure that mothers and babies stay together and are able to start and continue breast-feeding. These are meaningful steps hospitals can take to support mothers and families and help improve breast-feeding rates.”

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