The United States Breastfeeding Committee Recommends Mother Support for Six Months of Exclusive Breastfeeding

The United States Breastfeeding Committee Recommends Mother Support for Six Months of Exclusive Breastfeeding

The United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) proudly [joined] organizations from more than 120 countries to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week 2008. In the United States, the percentage of infants ever breastfed increased from 60 percent of those born in 1993-1994 to 74 percent of those born in 2005. Despite this increase in the number of women who initiate breastfeeding, only about 12 percent of infants continue to be breastfed exclusively for a full six months.

Exclusive breastfeeding through six months of age, defined as an infant’s consumption of human milk with no supplementation of any type (no nonhuman milk, juice, water, or solid foods), except for vitamins, minerals, and medications, is the standard recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Office on Women’s Health of the US Department of Health and Human Services. Scientific evidence clearly shows that breastfed infants have a lower incidence and severity of infections than formula-fed infants: less severe diarrhea, and fewer respiratory and ear infections. Evidence also underscores that a lack of breastfeeding is associated with increased risk of leukemia, obesity, diabetes mellitus, and deaths associated with sudden infant death syndrome.

Yet without strong social, economic, and political support for a mother’s choice to breastfeed, these benefits prove beyond the reach of many American families. USBC Chair Joan Younger Meek, MD, MS, RD, FAAP, FABM, IBCLC, urges us to rise to the challenge and meet the goal of six months of exclusive breastfeeding: “As a nation we still have far to go to ensure mothers have the opportunity to breastfeed exclusively for six months and to continue breastfeeding for the first year of life and beyond. The USBC advocates for mother support in health systems, the workplace, the community, and the family.

To read the press release in its entirety, visit the USBC website: www.usbreastfeeding.org/News-and-Events/2008-08-USBC-WBW-Press-Release.pdf