Mom's turning to bottle too soon
Posted on 08 August 2007
It has been well-established that breastfeeding is good for the health of your baby. Mother's milk offers natural protection against diseases that formula just cannot. Dr. David Paige, a Johns Hopkins University reproductive health expert says that ideally, mothers should breastfeed their children for at least the first six months of life. A lot of effort has been made to get this message out and it seems to be working: according to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly three quarters of new mothers in the United States are breastfeeding their children.
However, it seems that while mothers are starting out on the breast, they aren't sticking to it. The survey found that only 30 percent are still breastfeeding exclusively after three months and at six months, that number drops to 11 percent.
The reasons for the drop-off vary, but experts suspect mothers find it inconvenient to continue to breastfeed after returning to work and that some women are swayed by advertising for baby formula. Or perhaps they start out giving the occasional bottle and things progress from there -- eventually less stimulation equals less milk. "It creates a downward spiral," Paige said.
The study found that exclusive breastfeeding is lowest among black women and unmarried, poor, rural and very young mothers. Those with a high school education or less are also less likely to breastfeed. But our government aims to change that and has set lofty goals regarding breastfeeding: by the year 2010 they hope to have 60 percent of women breastfeeding exclusively for the first three months of life and 25 percent doing it through six months. New York City's program of banning formula freebies and advertisements in hospitals will likely help. What do you think is needed to get the breastfeeding message across?