TUESDAY, Aug. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Less than 4 percent of U.S.
hospitals offer the full range of support services that new mothers
need to master breast-feeding, a new government report shows.
This is an important issue because breast-feeding protects
against childhood obesity and offers other health benefits to
children, according to the
Vital Signs report released online Tuesday by the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Researchers analyzed data from CDC's national survey of
Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care, and found that
only 14 percent of hospitals have a written breast-feeding
In nearly 80 percent of hospitals, healthy breast-feeding
infants are given formula when it is not medically necessary. This
practice makes it much more difficult for new mothers and infants
to learn how to breast-feed and to continue breast-feeding at
Among the other findings:
- Only one-third of hospitals practice "rooming in," in which
mothers stay with their newborns 24 hours a day. This helps mothers
and newborns learn to breast-feed by giving them frequent
opportunities to breast-feed.
- Nearly 75 percent of hospitals do not provide necessary
breast-feeding support to mothers and babies when they leave the
hospital. Required support includes a follow-up visit, a phone call
from hospital staff and referrals to lactation consultants and
breast-feeding support systems in the community.
The report's release coincides with World Breast-Feeding
"Hospitals play a vital role in supporting a mother to be able to breast-feed," CDC director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden said in a CDC news release. "Those first few hours and days that a mom and her baby spend learning to breast-feed are critical. Hospitals need to better support breast-feeding, as this is one of the most important things a mother can do for her newborn. Breast-feeding helps babies grow up healthy and reduces health-care costs."
Low rates of breast-feeding in the United States result in $2.2
billion in additional medical costs per year. Babies who are fed
formula and stop breast-feeding early have higher rates of obesity,
diabetes, respiratory and ear infections. They also require more
doctor visits, hospitalizations and prescriptions, according to the
The U.S. National Institute of Child Health & Human
Development has more about