Administration-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for women with reproductive capacity.


Breastfeeding benefits the mother, the child, and society. The challenge is to ensure that the majority of mothers initiate breastfeeding and exclusively breastfeed their children during the first six months, with breastfeeding continuing to a year or beyond for every child (Gartner et al., 1997).


An AHRQ report from 2007 includes a summary of systematic reviews and meta-analyses on breastfeeding and maternal and infant health outcomes (Ip et al., 2007). The evidence is clear that breastfeeding reduces Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, gastrointestinal infections, upper and lower respiratory diseases, childhood leukemia, asthma, ear infections, childhood obesity, and diabetes mellitus type 2 risk for children, as well as rates of hospitalization (Table 5-4). They also concluded that sufficient results are available to be able to state that breastfeeding significantly lowers the maternal risk of breast and ovarian cancers (Table 5-4). Breastfeeding soon after birth may reduce the risk of maternal blood loss and enhance maternal-infant bonding (ACNM, 2004). A recent study concluded that if 90 percent of all children were exclusively breastfeed during the first six months of life, the United States would save $13 billion per year and prevent an excess of 911 deaths (Bartick and Reinhold, 2010). If only 80 percent of U.S. families complied, $10.5 billion would be saved and 741 deaths would be prevented each year.

In the United States, the majority of pregnant women plan to breastfeed (DiGirolamo et al., 2005), and yet there is a clear gap between the proportion of women who prenatally intend to breastfeed and those who actually do so by the time they are discharged after a brief hospital stay (California WIC Association and U.C. Davis Human Lactation Center, 2008; CDC, 2007b). The National Immunization Survey found that among the mothers of children born in 2007, 75 percent of mothers initiated breastfeeding, 43 percent were breastfeeding at six months, and 22 percent were breastfeeding at 12 months (CDC, 2007b). Although considerable progress has been made through overall promotion of breastfeeding in the United States, gains in breastfeeding rates have not been made equally across geographic, racial, and socioeconomic groups (Table 5-5).

Contrary to popular conception, breastfeeding appears to be a learned skill and the mother must be supported to be successful. Nevertheless,

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