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Decades of research has shown that breastfeeding has multiple health benefits for both infants and mothers. This includes reducing the likelihood of many health risks. In order for mothers and babies to get the full positive health impact of breastfeeding, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced for 1 year or longer.
Although breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventive health measures for infants and mothers, exclusive breastfeeding rates are low. According to the CDC's Breastfeeding Report Card 2013, 76.5 percent of babies are ever breastfed. Of those babies, 37.7 percent are exclusively breastfeeding at 3 months, 16.4 percent are exclusively (and 49 percent non-exclusively) breastfeeding at six months and 27 percent of babies are (non-exclusively) breastfeeding at 12 months.
Mothers who leave the hospital with free formula samples, promotional materials, or a lack of knowledge about breastfeeding are less likely to exclusively breastfeed after discharge. Hospitals, birthing facilities and communities can be critical in helping support mothers who choose to breastfeed.
There are many ways that communities can support mothers and babies that breastfeed, and everyone plays a role. The CDC Breastfeeding Report Card brings together state-by-state information to help tell the story of breastfeeding practices and supports in states.
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