Three-fourths of American babies start life on the breast, but moms are giving up on breast-feeding sooner than officials would like to see.
Healthy People 2010, a national statement of health goals, sets the bar for breast-feeding at birth at 74 percent. Fully 75 percent of American moms are breast-feeding at birth, so the country is (barely) meeting that objective.
However, the goals would have half of mothers breast-feeding at six months of life and a quarter continuing on at a year. In practice, 43 percent are breast-feeding at six months and 22 percent at one year.
"We need to direct even more effort toward making sure mothers have the support they need in hospitals, workplaces and communities to continue breastfeeding beyond the first few days of life, so they can make it to those six- and 12-month marks," said William Dietz, M.D., Ph.D., director of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga.
The CDC issues an annual report card of how "key community settings" like hospitals and child-care centers are supporting breast-feeding, which research has demonstrated can improve an individual's lifetime health outlook.
While the overall news is good for moms' getting a start on breast-feeding at birth, the swing among the various states ranges from 90 percent in Utah to to 53 percent in Mississipi.