Although breast milk is readily available, many women do not to breastfeed their child for very long, if at all. Through the years we have seen a dramatic decrease in the rates of breastfed children, and although there has been recent improvement, there is still room to improve.
Breastfeeding Practices In 2007-09, it was reported that among the infants born in 2006, only 74% were ever breastfed (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). Within one year, there was a small increase in these numbers. Among children born in 2007, 75% of mothers started breastfeeding, 43% continued breastfeeding at six months, and 22% were still breastfeeding at 12 months (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2011). By 2013 however, these rates had increased again. The 2016 Breastfeeding Report Card shows the breastfeeding rates among infants born in 2013. Four out of five women started to breastfeed after birth, over half (51.8%) were breastfeeding at 6 months, and almost one third (30.7%) were breastfeeding at 12 months (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). Unfortunately, there are still many women who do not breastfeed their child for long. While breastfeeding rates have continued to rise, many mothers still do not meet the recommendations for continued and exclusive breastfeeding. There is a noticeable difference in breastfeeding rates among women of different ethnicity. For example, breastfeeding rates for African American infants are about 50 percent lower than those for Caucasian infants at birth, age six months, and age 12 months, even when taking the family’s income or educational level into consideration (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2011). This may be because African American women return to work much sooner than Caucasian women. Cultural beliefs and other hardships may play a hardship in a woman’s choice to initiate and continue breastfeeding as well.