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More Babies Getting Breast-Fed in the US

Update Date: Feb 08, 2013 03:19 AM EST

More mothers across the United States are breast-feeding their babies, according to a recently released news report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Human breast milk improves both immunity and health of the baby, and the risk of getting many infections is also reduced.

Many doctors recommend breast-feeding the newborn infant for the first six months after birth. Though the duration of breast-feeding is still under question, its importance cannot be denied. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests only breast-feeding for the first six months following birth, and breast milk and solid food mixed diet for the next six months.

"WHO recommends mothers worldwide to exclusively breastfeed infants for the child's first six months to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, they should be given nutritious complementary foods and continue breastfeeding up to the age of two years or beyond," a WHO official stated.

Between the years 2000 and 2008, the number of babies being breast-fed increased by a mere 4.3 percent, while an almost 10 percent increase was seen in women who continued to breast-feed their babies after six months. The breast-feeding rates in African-American women increased by 13 percent, however, the rate was considerably lower. This may be attributed to the lack of support they receive from their peer groups as well as work environment.

While breast-feeding is good for the baby, it is equally beneficial for mothers as well, since it's cost-effective and helps develop a special bond. The release of hormones oxytocin and prolactin during breast-feeding helps mothers to relax. Breast-feeding for six months or more also helps the mother in reducing their weight post-pregnancy, as the fat accumulated helps in the production of milk. Breast-feeding also has been known to reduce the risk of breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer.

"Although the gap between black and white breastfeeding initiation narrowed, black infants still had the lowest prevalences of breastfeeding initiation and duration, highlighting the need for targeted interventions in this population to promote and support breastfeeding. Despite increases in the prevalence of breastfeeding, fewer than half of the infants in the survey were still breastfeeding at six months, indicating that women who choose to breastfeed their infants need support to continue breastfeeding," the author said in the agency news report.

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