Breastfeeding Rate Improves

09.15.10 Breastfeeding figures at birth see boost, but most moms give up by six-month mark.

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Seventy-five percent of newborns were breastfed at birth in 2007, according to the latest available figures released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but most mothers give up quickly, USA Today reports.

Fewer than half of U.S. mothers (43 percent) breastfeed their newborns for even half as long as recommended; only 22 percent are still nursing at the one-year mark, the CDC researchers report.

The CDC's breastfeeding rates varied by states, with Utah ranking the highest with nearly 90 percent of Utah newborns being breastfed. Mississippi was the lowest at just 52.5 percent of moms attempting to breastfeed, the CDC found.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends newborns be fed nothing but breast milk for the first six months of life. The group also urges mothers to continue breastfeeding as the child begins eating other food until at least the end of the first year and/or longer.

Breastfed babies are less likely to be obese as they grow older, and studies show other health benefits for both moms (including a lower risk of breast and ovarian cancer) and babies from nursing. The AAP also estimates that breastfeeding could lower annual U.S. health costs by $3.6 billion if more U.S. women nursed their babies.

As natural as nursing is for some women, it can prove difficult for others. Check out our How to Breastfeed page for step-by-step instructions with photos. Plus, take a peek at our Booby Traps page for the top five pitfalls of breastfeeding and how to avoid them. If you're looking for help, read through our state-by-state list of Where to Get the Support You Need.

Don't forget to bookmark our Ultimate Guide to Breastfeeding—your one-stop resource for everything you need to know about nursing your baby.

Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor.