August 16, 2013
Concord, NH – Breastfeeding rates have continued to rise over the past decade, according to data released this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In New Hampshire, the percentage of babies being breastfed at six months of age increased from 34% in 2000 to 54% in 2010. The percentage of babies being breastfed at 12 months also increased from 19% to 26% during that same time period. The data show that babies who started breastfeeding increased from 81% in 2000 to 86% in 2010.
“This is great news for the health of New Hampshire because babies who are breastfed have lower risks of ear and gastrointestinal infections, diabetes, and obesity, and mothers who breastfeed have lower risks of breast and ovarian cancers,” said DPHS Director, José Montero, Director of Public Health at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. “Also, breastfeeding lowers health care costs and it gives babies the healthiest start in life nutritionally. It is important that we continue working to improve hospital, community and workplace support for breastfeeding mothers and babies and realize these cost savings and health benefits.”
Hospitals are an important setting for supporting breastfeeding mothers and babies. The CDC reports that the percentage of hospitals implementing key maternity practices that keep mothers and babies together after birth have also increased. In New Hampshire, the percentage of live births occurring at Baby Friendly Facilities has increased from about 16% in 2007 to 27% in 2011.
Other positive data show that after decades of rising rates, obesity among low-income preschoolers declined slightly in New Hampshire, along with 18 other states and U.S. territories from 2008 through 2011, according to the CDC. Policies and efforts that promote physical activity and healthy eating such as Baby Friendly hospitals and support for childcare providers to improve nutrition, increase physical activity, and decrease computer and television time for young children are effective strategies in reducing obesity.
“Research shows that children are five times more likely to be overweight or obese as an adult if they are overweight or obese between the ages of three and five years. New Hampshire has begun to see small changes among low-income children,” continued Montero. “This is encouraging but we have to continue to make progress in this area for the sake of our children.”
The obesity and overweight data are from the Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System, which collects data on preschool children enrolled in the New Hampshire WIC Nutrition Program. Heights and weights of approximately 8,500 children per year showed a decrease in obesity from 15.5% in 2007 to 14.6% in 2011. Decreases are attributed to changes in the WIC food package of healthier foods, and statewide efforts to promote healthier eating and active living.
For more information about New Hampshire’s efforts to support breastfeeding, visit www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/nhp/wic/breastfeeding.htm. To view the recent data on breastfeeding from the CDC visit www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/data/reportcard.htm. For more information about childhood obesity, visit www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood.