New study finds discrepancies by region
Nearly 80 percent of infants born in the United States in 2011 were breastfed for some length of time. That’s a 3 percent jump since 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2014 Breastfeeding Report Card.
The report found several reasons for the increase:
Exclusive breastfeeding. The rate of exclusive breastfeeding at six months rose from 16.4 percent in 2010 to 18.8 percent in 2011.
More board-certified lactation consultants. The number of certified lactation consultants has grown from 2.1 per 1,000 live births in 2006 to 3.5 per 1,000 live births in 2013.
State law support. More states have implemented laws that support breastfeeding mothers and bar formula promotions at hospitals.
Though the rising breastfeeding rates are applauded, the report also found discrepancies across different regions. Western states (California, Oregon, Washington, Montana) have the highest breastfeeding rates, while Southern states (Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana) report some of the lowest.
Researchers don’t know exactly what causes the disparities, but attribute some of it to a “different culture … in the general population and among health professionals,” says Larry Grummer-Strawn, chief of the CDC’s nutrition branch. Physicians in the South are more likely to say breastfeeding “doesn’t matter that much,” he adds.
According to the Daily Beast, some states with the lowest breastfeeding rates also have some of the nation’s lowest median income levels. Breastfeeding rates tend to rise with states’ income levels.
Black women’s breastfeeding rates have also risen, but they are still not on par with those of white and Hispanic women.