Few U.S. Infants Exclusively Breastfed for First Six Months

Determinants of exclusive breastfeeding differ from those for breastfeeding initiation

TUESDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life is low among U.S. infants, according to a study published online Nov. 28 in Pediatrics.

Jessica R. Jones, M.P.H., from the Health Resources and Services Administration in Rockville, Md., and colleagues assessed the impact of maternal, child, and household environment characteristics on exclusive breastfeeding for six months, and compared the associations of these characteristics with exclusive breastfeeding and breastfeeding initiation. Data were collected for 25,197 children, aged 6 months to 5 years, from the nationally representative 2007 National Survey of Children's Health. Mutivariate adjusted odds ratios (ORs) were calculated for breastfeeding among all infants, and exclusive breastfeeding for six months, among infants who had initiated breastfeeding.

The investigators found that nearly 75 percent of the children in the study had ever been breastfed. Of these, 16.8 percent were exclusively breastfed for six months. Compared to non-Hispanic white children, non-Hispanic black children were significantly less likely to have ever been breastfed (adjusted OR, 0.54). The odds of exclusive breastfeeding did not differ significantly according to race. Children with the highest likelihood of ever being breastfed, and least likelihood of being breastfed exclusively, were those with birth weights of less than 1,500 grams. Maternal age correlated significantly with exclusive breastfeeding, but did not correlate with breastfeeding initiation.

"Few U.S. children are breastfed exclusively for the first six months of their lives. The determinants of exclusive breastfeeding for six months differ somewhat from those of breastfeeding initiation," the authors write.

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