Most new mothers start phasing out breastfeeding before their baby reaches six months, a new CDC report reveals.
The US recommends feeding newborns exclusively with breast milk for at least half a year – ideally up to a year – to lay the foundations for a strong and resilient immune system.
Doctors were heartened to see that more than half of babies are still breastfeeding at six months.
However, just 25 percent of them were being exclusively breastfed, and only a third of them were being breastfed at all at 12 months.
The CDC says there is progress to get more women breastfeeding, but more needs to be done
‘We are pleased that most US babies start out breastfeeding and over half are still breastfeeding at six months of age,’ Dr Ruth Petersen, director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, said.
‘The more we support breastfeeding mothers, the more likely they will be able to reach their breastfeeding goals,’ she added in an agency news release.
The report uses data on the four million babies born in 2015, and their mothers.
It shows 83 percent of moms start out breastfeeding, and 46.7 percent are still going at three months.
By six months, 57.6 percent are still going, but just 25 percent of them are doing it exclusively.
At 12 months, just 36 percent of mothers are still breastfeeding their babies.
The time spent breastfeeding helps develop the bond between child and mother while also providing a host of benefits for the baby.
Breast milk contains antibodies, other proteins and immune cells that help prevent microorganisms from penetrating body tissue.
Additionally, research has shown that breastfed babies are less likely to catch viruses.
And if they do catch a virus, antibodies are produced by the mother which are then passed on to the baby via breast milk, helps colonize their guts.
The adult gut is home to trillions of microorganisms which helps harvest energy from food, regulate the immune system and keeps the gut lining healthy.
According to the new CDC report, 49 percent of workplaces in the US provide support for working breastfeeding mothers, such as a place to pump breast milk.
The agency says more of this is needed to help more mothers protect their children – and possibly lower their own stroke risk, according to the findings of a study published today by the University of Kansas.
‘To reach their breastfeeding goals, mothers need worksite accommodations and continuity of care through consistent, collaborative and high-quality breastfeeding services. They need the support from their doctors, lactation consultants and counselors, and peer counselors,’ the agency said.