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CDC: Hospitals Doing Better Job of Promoting Breastfeeding

Still, nearly 4 million infants are born each year in U.S., but only 14% in 'baby-friendly' hospitals

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 7, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. hospitals have made significant improvements to breastfeeding support programs in recent years, providing better help to new mothers, federal health officials reported Tuesday.

Nearly twice as many hospitals have adopted most of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding initiative, a global standard for hospital support of breastfeeding before, during, and after a new mother's hospital stay. The percentage of U.S. hospitals using a majority of the Ten Steps increased from about 29 percent in 2007 to 54 percent in 2013, according to the report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But there's still work to be done. Nearly four million infants are born each year in the United States, but only 14 percent are born in "baby-friendly" hospitals that have successfully implemented the entire Ten Steps program. "Every one of the Ten Steps is important to use in a hospital to give babies the best start, to help mothers start and continue to breastfeed as recommended," CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., said during a media briefing. "Ideally, we would like every birth hospital in this country to adopt all of the Ten Steps and become 'baby-friendly.'"

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life, and that they continue to receive breast milk as part of their diet for at least 12 months. The CDC report urges more American hospitals to get on board with the Ten Steps program, and to work with professionals in their area to create breastfeeding support networks for new mothers.

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