SALT LAKE CITY — A new report finds many mothers in the United States who start out breastfeeding stop doing so much sooner than recommended by physicians.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says in Utah, most new mothers choose to nurse their newborns as recommended, but far too few were exclusively doing so at six months.
Judy Harris, Breastfeeding Coordinator for the Utah Department of Health, says the goal is to have state hospitals and birthing centers to help women start off on the right foot, but family and community support is critical for moms to continue nursing.
“Most women start out, especially in Utah, over nine out of ten moms are breastfeeding. But we somehow don’t provide the support to keep them going,” Harris says.
Utah’s rate of breastfeeding mothers is better than the national average. In 2015, the report found nationally about 83 percent of mothers started out nursing. By a year, however, that number was down to 36 percent.
About half of US employers offer support for nursing mothers, according to the report.
The CDC found only one in four babies were exclusively nursing at six months old. Harris says the World Health Organization’s recommendation is exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, with continued nursing through two years old to provide immune system protection and nutritional along with other benefits for both mom and baby. Researchers say breastfed babies have lower rates of asthma, respiratory infection, obesity, some types of cancer and even type 2 diabetes.
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