Posted by on August 21, 2013 - 2:56pm

According to the 2013 Breastfeeding Report Card released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in July, a high rate of mothers are attempting to breastfeed their infants, and are breastfeeding their infants for longer. In 2010, around 75% of new mothers began breastfeeding.  Also in 2010, about 50% of babies were still being breastfed at 6 months old, and 27% at 1 year old. This is a significant increase from 2000, when these statistics were 35% and 16%, respectively. The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends mothers breastfeed their infants for 1 year, and the World Health Organization suggests that children be breastfed for 2 years.

These improvements are noteworthy, given the benefits children receive from being breastfed. Research shows that infants who are breastfed are less likely to experience ear infections and diarrhea than those that are not. Additionally, adults who were breastfed as babies are less likely to suffer from diabetes and obesity. However, these advantages are not always well publicized and some hospitals to do not promote breastfeeding.

In fact, about 25% of hospitals and birth centers provide formula to mothers whose babies are successfully breastfeeding, and around 75% of hospitals include formula in packs given to all new mothers. In addition to promoting breastfeeding, the CDC reports two specific actions hospitals can take to increase the number of women who breastfeed. The first is allowing new infants to “room in” with their mothers. In 2011, 37% of hospitals reported having babies stay in the hospital room with their mothers for 23 hours a day, which is up from 30% in 2000, but still leaves room for improvement. Hospitals should also ensure “skin to skin” contact between mothers and babies after birth, which help babies keep warm and successfully breastfeed. According to the CDC, about 54% of hospitals have infants skin-to-skin with mothers.

By taking the steps outlined above and increasing publicity about the benefits of breastfeeding, hospitals and public health officials can help increase the amount of women who breastfeed and the length that babies are breastfed for.

For more information and resources about breastfeeding from the U.S. Office on Women's Health, click here.

Source: Shute, Nancy. “More Moms Are Breast-Feeding, But Many Babies Still Miss Out.” NPR. 31 July 2013.

Posted by on August 20, 2012 - 6:57am

A clear majority of MedPage Today readers do not want hospitals to lock up infant formula as a way to encourage new moms to breastfeed.

The 1,600-plus vote tally was 72% against and 28% for hospitals keeping infant formula out of sight. The prompt for their survey was a story about some 27 New York City hospitals that plan to stow away the formula in an effort to promote breastfeeding.    The voluntary program was launched by the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

These hospitals might be acting in good faith, but whether they are going about it in the right way is up for debate, according to reader comments.   "There is a HUGE difference between educating as to the benefits of breastfeeding versus creating a negative barrier to access. One way promotes choice and the other looks like tyranny," said one commenter.

However, another reader said the lock-up requirement is "perfectly reasonable."   She went on to say that it's "sad that it is necessary," but by doing so perhaps nurses would think twice before going for the formula.

Many readers agreed that breastfeeding is best for babies and that new mothers should be taught breastfeeding in the hospital. But many also drew the line at the suggestion of locking up the formula.

What do you think?   After all, baby formula is not a controlled substance....hmmm.