Wednesday, August 3, 2011

CDC releases 2011 Breastfeeding Report Card

The CDC recently released its fifth annual Breastfeeding Report Card. Click over to see how well (or poorly) your state is doing in terms of breastfeeding initation rates, breastfeeding at 6 months and 12 months, and exclusive breastfeeding at 3 months and 6 months.

As always, I take some of these numbers with a grain of salt. Almost no one is using the term "exclusive breastfeeding" in the same way. Some moms will say they are "exclusive breastfeeding" their 9 month old, meaning he is not getting any formula, though he is getting solid food. Many moms don't count any supplementary bottles that were given to their babies either in the hospital or at home before breastfeeding was established. I think we also know that some women initiate breastfeeding in the hospital with little to no intention to continuing once they get home.

Not surprisingly, not much has changed with these numbers. The Southern states have the lowest rates across the board, with the Pacific Northwest and West coast having some of the best. Although there was an increase in exclusive breastfeeding rates at 3 and 6 months since the initial report card in 2007, we still have a long way to go.

The CDC acknowledges that child care providers play an important role in whether or not employed women are successful at continuing to breastfeed. While the Healthy People 2020 goals include increasing the proportion of employers that have worksite lactation programs, and the government requiring businesses to provide time and space for working moms to pump, I still don't see anyone fighting for paid parental leave, which would have a much bigger impact on breastfeeding rates, in my opinion. I'd also like to see more women allowed to bring their babies to work.

So how are things looking in your state? Are you noticing any improvement? Will this country ever get an A on this report card?

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