More moms are breastfeeding for at least six months and many are breastfeeding up to a year according to a new report issued by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.)
Almost half of U.S. moms in 2010 breastfed their babies for six months, up from 35 percent in 2000, a U.S. health official said.
Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said the percent of babies breastfeeding at 12 months also increased from 16 percent to 27 percent during that same time period. The data also showed babies who started breastfeeding increased from 71 percent in 2000 to 77 percent in 2010.
"This is great news for the health of our nation because babies who are breastfed have lower risks of ear and gastrointestinal infections, diabetes and obesity, while mothers who breastfeed have lower risks of breast and ovarian cancers," Frieden said in a statement.
"Also, breastfeeding lowers healthcare costs. Researchers have calculated that $2.2 billion in yearly medical costs could be saved if breastfeeding recommendations were met. It is critical that we continue working to improve hospital, community and workplace support for breastfeeding mothers and babies and realize these cost savings."
More hospitals are also making it possible for newborns and their mothers to spend more time together. Newborns that stay in the room with their mother at least 23 hours per day increased from about 30 percent in 2007 to 37 percent in 2011.
Breastfeeding rates have been on the rise, increasing from about 71 percent to 77 percent during the last decade. Breast milk is easier for babies to digest and helps protect against disease. Breast-fed babies have lower rates of respiratory infections, asthma, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, Type 1 diabetes, childhood leukemia and a type of skin rash known as atopic dermatitis. Decreased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has also been observed. Recent studies have also shown that babies who are breast-fed may possibly receive a boost in intelligence.
How long moms tend to breastfeed differs across the nation.
Idaho was the state with the most breast-feeding moms, with about 91.8 percent of new mothers breast-feeding at some point. California, Oregon, Colorado and New Hampshire rounded out the top five.
At the six-month marker, the top states for breast-feeding mothers were Idaho, California, Oregon, Hawaii and Utah. By one year, Utah, Idaho, California, Hawaii and Vermont moms held the top spots.
The states with the lowest rate of breast-feeding was Mississippi, where only 50.5 percent of new mothers breast-fed at any point and time, just 19.7 percent were breast-feeding at six months, and barely 9.1 percent of moms made it to 1 year.