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Breastfeeding Rates Up Overall, Less Common With African American Mothers

Update Date: Feb 08, 2013 12:45 AM EST

Breast feeding is on the rise in the U.S. among all ethnicities, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but African-American women are still far less likely to do so than Hispanic or white women.

The report charted breast-feeding patterns from 2000 to 2008 and found that the number of breast-fed infants rose from 70.3% to 74.6%.  Mothers who continued to breastfeed after the recommended six months jumped from 34.5% to 44.4% during the same period.

"Breastfeeding is good for the mother and for the infant -- and the striking news here is, hundreds of thousands more babies are being breast-fed than in past years, and this increase has been seen across most racial and ethnic groups," CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a press release.

"Despite these increases, many mothers who want to breast-feed are still not getting the support they need from hospitals, doctors, or employers. We must redouble our efforts to support mothers who want to breast-feed."

During the study period, white mothers who breastfed rose from 72% to 75%, Hispanic mothers 78% to 80%, and black mothers 47% to 59%.

Although black mothers did see the largest rise from 2000 to 2008, researchers say they are more likely to encounter unsupportive work environments among other factors. Changes need to be implemented to make including increasing the number of lactation consultants in minority communities, the researchers said.

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