Breastfeeding Rates In Iowa Rising
The first week of August has been designated as World Breastfeeding Week. The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) encourages Iowans to use this week to increase awareness of the importance of breastfeeding.
While Iowa continues to see a steady increase in the number of infants who are breastfed at the time of birth, the percentage of breastfed children falls dramatically at 6 months and 12 months. In addition, Iowa lags behind national statistics when it comes to the percentage of nursing mothers.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 68 percent of Iowa babies are breastfed at birth; this compares to 74 percent nationally. At 6 months of age, 33 percent of Iowa babies are breastfed, compared to 43 percent nationally. By 12 months of age, just 16 percent of Iowa babies are breastfed, compared to 23 percent nationally.
"The drop in breastfeeding as infants age may be due, in part, to the high percentage of Iowa mothers who are employed," said IDPH WIC Breastfeeding Coordinator Holly Szcodronski. "The most recent data shows 76 percent of women in the Iowa workforce have preschool age children. Few employers provide lactation support in the workplace. It's important that women receive support and accurate information about breastfeeding options for working outside the home."
Both babies and mothers gain many benefits from breastfeeding. Breast milk is easy to digest and contains antibodies that can protect infants from bacterial and viral infections. Research indicates that women who breastfeed may have lower rates of certain breast and ovarian cancers.