Friday, May 18, 2012

Who Breastfeeds? Which ethnic group breastfeeds most?

Who Breastfeeds?

Many women consider breastfeeding, but not all moms do breastfeed. Breastfeeding is great for bonding, nutrition and overall health. It is however, not something as wide-spread in the US, as the Healthy "goals' of 2010 had hoped. In fact the US was no where close to hitting that goal. But, there are some statistical groups that do breastfeed more than others. Hispanics more than anyone else. But of course, non-Hispanic babies also benefit from breastmilk!

Who is getting only human milk?

Only 10.7 babies are exclusively breasted in the US at least 3 months, and only 6.1 percent make the 6 months exclusive breastfeeding that is recommended by AAP.  Is early supplementation a reason for early weaning and non-continuation of breastfeeding?

Why aren't more moms breastfeeding?

According to the Journal of Human Lactation,
“In-hospital formula supplementation of breastfed infants negatively impacts breastfeeding duration. Infants from low-income families have some of the lowest exclusive breastfeeding rates in the United States. The objectives of this study were to identify (1) reasons low-income breastfeeding mothers begin in-hospital formula supplementation and (2) risk factors for in-hospital formula supplementation. We surveyed 150 low-income mothers in a Washington, DC, clinic. Sixty percent had initiated breastfeeding, and 78% of these breastfed infants received formula supplementation in the hospital. There was no clear medical need for supplementation for 87% of the breastfed infants receiving supplementation. Infants of mothers who did not attend a prenatal breastfeeding class were almost 5 times more likely to receive in-hospital formula supplementation than those infants whose mothers had attended a class (OR, 4.7; 95% CI, 1.05-21.14). Improved knowledge about breastfeeding among nursing and medical providers is important to minimize unnecessary formula supplementation for breastfed infants.”
Again, I’m not indicating you have to breastfeed, but medical professionals who aren’t knowledgeable about breastfeeding definitely are a reason for increased cost to families and society. I know when my daughter was born a nurse (who wasn't the one lacatation consultant on staff at that hospital) basically told me right nipple was useless and it was inverted. It wasn't until I was pregnant with my second kid that I found out it wasn't inverted. I did nurse on that side, but I had assumed that whole time that my right boob had something wrong with it!!

Further, there are economic reasons TO breastfeed, thus those who are low/middle income would probably breastfeed more.. but that is not the case. In fact Ww know that families who have WIC tend to breastfeed less, but that number is slowly changing as more local WIC offices are employing breastfeeding peer counselors and securing more real food for families who choose to breastfeed, since real food costs less, perhaps the over $1,963,291,673 spent would be less if we had increased breastfeeding. Of course nutrition is important, but seeing that breast milk is a lot cheaper, increasing rates among the low and middle-income individuals would be better for health and for tax payers.

 It is also good to see breastfeeding rates increasing in the US, but this says nothing for the impact on shady marketing tactics in places such as China and Brazil by companies such as Nestle
For clarification purposes, how you feed your baby is up to you. For us, we recognize the benefits of breastfeeding and feel that families should choose breastfeeding as a first option, then pumped breastmilk, followed by formula. This is what AAP recommends as well as WHO.

1 comment:

Char W said...

Wow, I am surprised that the numbers are so low for the percentages of babies breastfed! I know that our local hospital used to give out diaper bags from formula companies (got one with my first) but three years later with my second, they didn't give out diapers bags because it was from formula companies and they were trying to encourage breastfeeding. I think it is something more mothers should do but I think it is something that new mothers especially need more support with.

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