More U.S. hospitals support breastfeeding — CDC

October 7, 2015 10:25 am 

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7 — Hospital support for breastfeeding in the United States has improved since 2007, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Tuesday.

The percentage of U.S. hospitals using a majority of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, the global standard for hospital care to support breastfeeding, increased from approximately 29 percent in 2007 to 54 percent in 2013, a nearly two-fold increase over six years, according to a report released by the CDC.

"Breastfeeding has immense health benefits for babies and their mothers," said CDC Director Tom Frieden. "More hospitals are better supporting new moms to breastfeed — every newborn should have the best possible start in life."

Of the nearly 4 million babies born each year in the U.S., 14 percent are born in Baby-Friendly hospitals, a number that has nearly tripled in recent years, but remains low.

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) was established by the World Health Organization and UN Children's Fund and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The core of the BFHI is the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, which includes helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth and keeping mothers and babies together throughout the entire hospital stay.

Across all survey years, hospital staff provided high levels of prenatal breastfeeding education and teaching mothers breastfeeding techniques, the report said.

As a result, early initiation of breastfeeding increased from about 44 percent in 2007 to nearly 65 percent in 2013.

The findings were based on data from a CDC national survey, which measures the percentage of U.S. hospitals with practices that are consistent with the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.

"What happens in the hospital can determine whether a mom starts and continues to breastfeed, and we know that many moms — 60 percent — stop breastfeeding earlier than they'd like," said Cria Perrine, epidemiologist in CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity.

"These improvements in hospital support for breastfeeding are promising, but we also want to see more hospitals fully supporting mothers who want to breastfeed."

There are many health benefits to breastfeeding, the CDC said.

Babies that are breastfed have reduced risks for ear, respiratory, stomach and intestinal infections. They also are at lower risk of asthma, obesity, and sudden infant death syndrome.

Pre-term infants are at a particularly high risk of necrotizing enterocolitis, a disease that affects the stomach and intestinal tract, but breastfeeding can protect infants from this disease.

Also, mothers that breastfeed are less likely to get breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Breastfeeding also saves money. More than USD 2 billion in yearly medical costs for children could be saved if breastfeeding recommendations were met in the country, said the CDC. (PNA/Xinhua)



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