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U.S. Breast-Feeding Rates on the Rise

Rates of exclusive breast-feeding still falling short of national targets

TUESDAY, Aug. 7 (HealthDay News) -- More U.S. women are choosing to breast-feed their infants but rates of exclusive breast-feeding still do not meet national targets, researchers report in the Aug. 3 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Kelley S. Scanlon, Ph.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in Atlanta, and colleagues report on data from the telephone interview-based National Immunization Survey. The survey included data on the initiation and duration of breast-feeding of infants born from 2000 to 2004 and on exclusive breast-feeding in 2004.

The national target of 75 percent of women initiating breast-feeding was almost reached in 2004, when nearly 74 percent of women initiated breast-feeding. In comparison, 70.9 percent of infants born in 2000 were breast-fed. However, the 2004 rates for exclusive breast-feeding by the age of three and six months were only 30.5 percent and 11.3 percent, respectively, versus a target of 60 percent and 25 percent, respectively.

Exclusive breast-feeding was more prevalent among white infants and mothers who were married, older, better educated, had higher income and lived in urban areas.

"Further research is needed to identify successful programs and policies to support exclusive breast-feeding, especially among subgroups with the lowest rates," the authors write.

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