Wednesday, September 28, 2016

National data shows 90 percent of new Minnesota mothers breastfeed

More Minnesota mothers are breastfeeding and are breastfeeding longer, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Minnesota's rates of beginning, or initiating, breastfeeding rose to 90 percent in 2013 – for the first time since reporting began – from 84 percent in 2012, according to the most recent national breastfeeding statistics released by CDC.

Minnesota also saw increases in how long mothers are breastfeeding, according to the CDC data.

  • Breastfeeding at six months went from 58.5 to 65.9 percent, a 13-percent increase.
  • Breastfeeding at 12 months went from 35.8 to 41.0 percent, a 15-percent increase.
  • Exclusive breastfeeding at three months went from 48.6 to 53.9 percent, an 11-percent increase.
  • Exclusive breastfeeding at six months went from 21.7 to 31.4 percent, a 45-percent increase.

"Breastfeeding helps to improve the lifelong health of both babies and mothers," said Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger. "Supporting breastfeeding is one of the best public health investments we can make to improve health and well-being in Minnesota."

These rates make Minnesota a top breastfeeding state in the nation, ranking seventh for beginning breastfeeding (initiation) and fifth for breastfeeding at six months. Minnesota is also ahead of other states by exceeding all five of the Healthy People 2020 objectives for breastfeeding related to how many mothers start breastfeeding, how long they breastfeed and whether they only breastfeed, rather than also using formula.

Despite overall improvement in breastfeeding rates in Minnesota, there are significant differences in the rates of beginning and maintaining breastfeeding among various groups. Minnesota still needs to do more to support breastfeeding for all women. For example, though the percentage of women initiating breastfeeding in the Minnesota WIC Program has risen from 63 percent to 80 percent since 2001, some women face more barriers to breastfeeding and are initiating at lower rates. Minnesota breastfeeding rates vary significantly by race and ethnicity. MDH and partners promote public health strategies that make it easier for all Minnesota women to breastfeed. This work includes supporting peer counseling and breastfeeding friendly policies and practices in hospitals, workplaces, childcare settings and the community.

Organizations who have been recognized by MDH as breastfeeding friendly are highlighted on the Breastfeeding Friendly recognition page. This work was recognized in the new CDC Breastfeeding Report Card, released this week.

"We commend and strongly support Minnesota's breastfeeding-friendly hospitals and other organizations that are helping to ensure that Minnesota's children have a healthy start," Ehlinger said.

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