Breastfeeding is one of the most effective steps a mother can take to protect the health of her baby. In observance of World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7, learn more about thepromotion and support of breastfeeding in the United States.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for about the first 6 months and continued breastfeeding for at least the first year as solid foods are introduced. However, many mothers in the US are not able to meet these recommendations. Data from the 2014 Breastfeeding Report Card show that in 2011, 79 percent of newborn infants started breastfeeding, 49 percent were still breastfeeding at six months and 27 percent were still breastfeeding at twelve months.
Professional breastfeeding support is an integral part of the system that can help mothers start and continue breastfeeding. Professional breastfeeding experts support breastfeeding when they assist mothers, create and administer breastfeeding programs, and educate other health professionals about breastfeeding. CDC keeps track of the availability of this kind of support in two ways – by the number of International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) for every 1,000 births and by the number of Certified Lactation Counselors (CLCs) for every 1,000 births. From 2006 through 2013, the number of IBCLCs increased from 2.1 to 3.5 for every 1,000 births. In 2013, there were 3.8 CLCs for every 1,000 births, compared to only 2.5 CLCs two years earlier.
Visit the full 2014 Breastfeeding Report Card for information on supporting breastfeeding.