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Monday, September 22nd, 2014
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that women breastfeed for at least their baby’s first year, but according to a recent survey, just over a quarter of moms nationwide hit that mark.
While overall breastfeeding rates are on the rise—79 percent of American women reported that they breastfed their newborn at some point during 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, this number drops off significantly as the child grows older. After six months, 49.4 percent of women continued to breastfeed, but after 12 months it was down to 26.7 percent.
Vermont, Alaska and Utah had some of the highest rates of breastfeeding at 12 months (between 40 and 45 percent participation) while Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana had some of the lowest rates (between 10 and 12 percent participation), though the study does not suggest a cause or explanation for this.
This data was compiled as part of the CDC’s annual Breastfeeding Report Card and is part of the breastfeeding goals explained in the Healthy People 2020 campaign that aims to have 81.9 percent of women breastfeeding by 2020 and 34.1 percent of women continuing to breastfeed through 12 months.
Breastfeeding has been shown to have many benefits for both baby and mom, like reducing the chance of your little one developing allergies and eczema, lowering the chance of SIDS and protecting against diseases like type 1 diabetes and spinal meningitis; meanwhile, it can help you lose pregnancy weight, decreases your chances of getting ovarian and breast cancer.
Having trouble breastfeeding? Read about the four most common breastfeeding discomforts and how to solve them. And also, take our quiz to find out your breastfeeding IQ.
Photo of baby nursing courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Monday, March 10th, 2014
A study that is making headlines across the media and in parenting blogs suggests that the long-term benefits attributed to breastfeeding–such as lower risks of obesity, asthma, and behavior disorders–are actually more a function of the good health and socioeconomic status of mothers who breastfeed, rather than developmental effects of the breast milk itself. More from The New York Times:
Researchers at Ohio State University compared 1,773 sibling pairs, one of whom had been breast-fed and one bottle-fed, on 11 measures of health and intellectual competency. The children ranged in age from 4 to 14 years.
The researchers recorded various health and behavioral outcomes in the sibling pairs, including body mass index, obesity, asthma, hyperactivity, reading comprehension, math ability and memory-based intelligence. The study, published online in Social Science & Medicine, found no statistically significant differences between the breast-fed and bottle-fed siblings on any of these measures.
By studying “discordant” siblings — one of whom had been breast-fed and the other not — the authors sought to minimize the possibility that racial, socioeconomic, educational or other differences between families could affect the results. Many earlier studies on breast-feeding failed to control for such factors, they say.
Campaigns to increase the rate of breast-feeding have been highly successful in recent years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about three-quarters of American mothers now breast-feed, compared with less than two-thirds in 2000, and about 49 percent are still breast-feeding at six months, compared with 34 percent in 2000.
Yet despite this increase, researchers have consistently found large socioeconomic and racial disparities in breast-feeding rates. A C.D.C. survey in 2008 found that 75 percent of white infants and 59 percent of black infants were ever breast-fed, and in 2013, the agency reported that 47 percent of white babies but only 30 percent of black babies were still being breast-fed at 6 months. Compared with bottle-fed infants, breast-fed babies are more likely to be born into families with higher incomes, have parents with higher educational attainments, and live in safer neighborhoods with easier access to health care services.
Still, sibling studies such as this latest one do not solve all the problems of bias. “We were not able to control for everything that could affect what would make a mom breast-feed one child and not the other,” said the lead author, Cynthia G. Colen, an assistant professor of sociology at Ohio State. “But we did control for premature birth, birth order, the age of the mother, and whether she was working when she had one infant and not when she had the other.”
Geoff Der, a statistician at the University of Glasgow who has worked with the same data in previous studies, said that the findings in the present study were robust and the authors’ method for eliminating selection bias was powerful. He had reassuring words for women who do not or cannot breast-feed.
“In a society with a clean water supply and modern formulas,” he said, “a woman who isn’t able to breast-feed shouldn’t be feeling guilty, and the likelihood that there’s any harm to the baby is pretty slim.”
Image: Baby having a bottle, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, February 4th, 2014
Mothers in the United Arab Emirates are now required by law to breastfeed their babies for their first two years of life. The Huffington Post reports on the new regulations, which would enable a husband to sue his wife if she fails to breastfeed:
The Emirates’ Federal National Council has passed a clause, part of their new Child Rights Law, requiring new moms to breastfeed their babies for two full years, The National reports. Now, men can sue their wives if they don’t breastfeed.
According to the National, there was a “marathon debate” over the legislation, but it was ultimately decided that it is every child’s right to be breastfed.
Research has found many benefits of breastfeeding for baby, from reducing the risk of obesity to better language and motor development.
However, not all new moms are able to nurse. In those instances, if a woman is prohibited by health reasons, the council will provide a wet nurse to her. It’s unclear exactly how a mother’s ability to breastfeed will be determined though.
Though breastfeeding is not required in the U.S., experts agree it is the healthiest way to feed a newborn. In 2012, Michael Bloomberg, who was mayor of New York City, introduced a controversial statewide provision requiring hospitals to “sign out” formula in the same way it dispenses medication, in a effort to encourage more women to breastfeed.
Download our free breastfed babies care chart to help track your baby’s feeding schedule.
Image: Breastfeeding newborn, via Shutterstock
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Monday, January 13th, 2014
A lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of a Pennsylvania mother hopes to achieve enforcement of a provision of Obamacare that is supposed to entitle breastfeeding women to have private space and time to pump at work. Thirty-one year-old Bobbi Bockoras, who operates a palletizer at a glass factory, claims she was not only denied clean, comfortable space to pump, but also says she was harassed by male colleagues and reassigned to a less convenient work schedule. More from NBC News:
It’s the first lawsuit brought by the ACLU under the ACA’s breastfeeding provision, which is the first federal law to require employers to accommodate nursing mothers on the job.
Bockoras’ case is one of a growing number of lactation discrimination lawsuits highlighting the need for more accommodation and acceptance for nursing mothers in the workplace, advocates say.
Despite overwhelming evidence supporting the health benefits of breastfeeding, “women who choose to continue breastfeeding when they return to the paid workforce face insurmountable obstacles that can make them choose between their jobs and what is in the best interest of their babies,” said New York-based ACLU senior staff attorney Galen Sherwin, who is representing Bockoras.
Bockoras’ lawyers argue that not only was she discriminated against and not accommodated under the law, but she was retaliated against when her shifts were switched. Verallia North America, which is headquartered in Muncie, Indiana, filed a motion to dismiss the case. The company is “committed to providing a respectful workplace” and “takes its obligations under the law very seriously and is committed to abiding by all federal and state employment laws,” it said in a statement.
Bockoras says her previous dayshift schedule has since been reinstated and that the locker room where she still pumps has been cleaned.
Under the ACA provision, which amends the Fair Labor Standards Act, companies are required to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth” and “are also required to provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion.” The provision also prohibits retaliation by companies when employees file complaints.
Prior to the ACA, nursing mothers who wanted to pump at work had few rights. An employer could refuse to allow a woman to express milk at work or fire her for doing so.
As more women become aware of their rights under the law, advocates expect lactation discrimination cases to proliferate. “Partly because the ACA offers a new avenue of relief that wasn’t available previously, we’re going to see more claims using that tool to vindicate the rights of women violated on the job,” Sherwin said.
Image: Breast pump, via Shutterstock
Is your baby’s growth on schedule? Find where your baby or toddler falls for height and weight on the growth chart.
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Thursday, December 19th, 2013
New mothers are more likely to have success with breastfeeding–at least for a few months–if they have periodic meetings with lactation consultants who offer support, tips, and encouragement. These are the findings of two different clinical trials conducted by Dr. Karen Bonuck at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The results will be published online in the American Journal of Public Health.
In one of the two trials included in this paper, women who were strongly and regularly encouraged to breastfeed were more than four times likely to exclusively breastfeed their infant at one month and nearly three times more likely to do so at three months, compared with the control group.
However, neither of the two trials showed that women who received lactation support consistently met the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation that mothers breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of their babies’ lives. Bonuck said in a statement that despite this shortcoming, 95 percent of the women in the two trials at least initiated breastfeeding—which exceeds the goal of 82 percent that the CDC proposed in its Healthy People 2020 report.
The American Academy of Pediatrics touts health benefits of breastfeeding including reduced incidence of ear infections and stomach illness and lower obesity rates for children and, for mothers, a reduced risk for pre-menopausal breast cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Image: Breastfeeding mother, via Shutterstock
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