Breast-Feeding Rate Rises

USA Today, December 2, 2002 issue reports that US women are breast feeding their infants in record numbers. The article says that more women are breast feeding today than in the last 50 years. According to the 2001 poll by Ross Products Division of Abbott Laboratories, seven out of 10 women nurse in the hospital and a third are still doing it six months later. The statistics came from a survey of about 400,000 mothers.

Ruth Lawrence, a neonatologist and nutrition expert at University of Rochester (N.Y.) Medical School says, “It’s the best news I’ve heard for children in a long time.” According to the article the reasons that more women are breast feeding are numerous. Family law attorney Elizabeth Baldwin of Fort Lauderdale says that over the past several years, nearly half of the states passed laws to protect a woman’s right to breast-feed in public. Additionally, education about the benefits of breast feeding along with the incentives in private and government programs is cited by the article as increases in breastfeeding rates.

Some of the listed benefits of breastfeeding include, decreased incidence of ear, gastrointestinal and urinary tract infections. The story goes on to say that infants who are nursed for a few months also are less prone to childhood cancers, particularly leukemia, and also greatly reduces a child’s risk for diabetes. Additionally, breast milk has been shown to strengthen the baby’s immune system.