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Prevalence of breastfeeding among U.S. infants. (Breastfeeding).

"This is the first nationally representative study available that indicates that initiation and maintenance of exclusive breastfeeding are low in the United States," state the authors of an article published in the American Journal of Public Health. Using Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) data, the authors examined the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding among U.S. infants to obtain baseline data for program evaluation and public health policymaking.

NHANES III, conducted between 1988 and 1994, collected breastfeeding data on children ages 2 months and older through a household youth questionnaire during a home interview with a parent or other proxy for the child. The study included only children younger than 6 years (n = 8,765). Researchers estimated the proportion of these children who were (1) ever breastfed, (2) exclusively breastfed at a given age, and (3) still breastfed at a given age. Sociodemographic and environmental factors considered in this analysis included race and ethnicity of respondents, maternal age, education of household head, smoking status of the mother during pregnancy, and maternal height and weight. Gestational age, maternal education, and parity were obtained from data linkages with the children's birth certificates.

The authors found that

* The proportions of children exclusively breastfed were approximately 47% at 7 days after birth, 32% at 2 months, 19% at 4 months, and 10% at 6 months;

* The proportions of children still being breastfed were approximately $52% at 7 days after birth, 40% at 2 months, 29% at 4 months, and 22% at 6 months;

* At each of these time points, exclusive breastfeeding was least common among low-birthweight, premature, or non-Hispanic Black infants and those of mothers who were younger than 20, had lower education or income, smoked during pregnancy, or lived in the South;

* Breastfeeding initiation and duration were lower among mothers who were overweight or obese and among families living in rural areas; and

* Primiparous mothers had a higher rate of initiating breastfeeding than did multiparous mothers, but had a lower rate of continuing breastfeeding throughout the infant's first year.

The authors conclude that "public health efforts are needed to improve the rate of exclusive breastfeeding--and, in particular, the duration of such feeding--among non-Hispanic Blacks and socioeconomically disadvantaged groups."

--The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey American Journal of Public Health, July 2002
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Publication:Special Delivery
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2002
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