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Breastfeeding is healthy and saves billions

Staff writer |
Hospital support for breastfeeding has improved since 2007, according to the latest CDC Vital Signs report.

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The percentage of U.S. hospitals using a majority of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, the global standard for hospital care to support breastfeeding, increased from approximately 29 percent in 2007 to 54 percent in 2013, a nearly two-fold increase over six years.

Improved hospital care could increase rates of breastfeeding nationwide and contribute to healthier children.

Of the nearly four million babies born each year in the U.S., 14 percent are born in Baby-Friendly hospitals, a number that has nearly tripled in recent years, but remains low.

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) was established by the World Health Organization and UNICEF and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The core of the BFHI is the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.

There are many health benefits to breastfeeding. Babies that are breastfed have reduced risks for ear, respiratory, stomach and intestinal infections. They also are at lower risk of asthma, obesity, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Pre-term infants are at a particularly high risk of necrotizing enterocolitis, a disease that affects the stomach and intestinal tract; breastfeeding can protect infants from this disease.

Also, mothers that breastfeed are less likely to get breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Breastfeeding also saves money. More than $2 billion in yearly medical costs for children could be saved if breastfeeding recommendations were met.


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