Fact Sheet on Breastfeeding in Nevada
- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding of infants to six months of age, and to one year of age with appropriate supplemented foods.
- Human milk contains an abundance of factors that are active against infection. Since the infant’s immune system is not fully mature until about two years of age, the transfer of these factors from human milk provides a distinct advantage that infants fed formula do not experience. Specifically, human milk contains immunologic agents and other compounds, such as antibodies, leukocytes, and carbohydrates that act against viruses, bacteria and parasites.
- Breastfed infants, compared with formula-fed infants, produce enhanced immune responses to polio, tetanus, diphtheria, and Haemophilus influenza immunizations, and to respiratory syncytial virus infection, a common infant respiratory infection. Human milk contains anti-inflammatory factors and other factors that regulate the response of the immune system against infection.
- Human milk contains a balance of nutrients that more closely matches human infant requirements for growth and development than does the milk of any other species. The fats and enzymes in human milk promote efficient digestion and utilization of nutrients. Scientific evidence suggests that the normal pattern for breastfed infants is to gain less weight and to be leaner at 1 year of age than formula-fed infants, while maintaining normal activity level and development. This early growth pattern may influence later growth patterns, resulting in less overweight and obesity among children who were breastfed.
- Many studies in infant feeding have found lower rates of several chronic childhood diseases among children who were breastfed. Recent findings suggest that breastfeeding may reduce the risk of type 1 and 2 diabetes, childhood cancer, and allergic disease/asthma.
- Breastfeeding has several positive hormonal, physical, and psychological effects on the mother. Studies have shown that breastfeeding for longer time periods (up to two years) and among younger mothers (early 20s) may reduce the risk of pre-menopausal and possibly postmenopausal breast cancer. In addition, the risk of ovarian cancer may be lower among women who have breastfed their children.
- Breastfeeding provides economic and social benefits to the family, the health care system, the employer, and the nation. Breastfed infants typically require fewer sick care visits, prescriptions, and hospitalizations, especially if breastfed exclusively or almost exclusively.
- Employers also benefit when their employees breastfeed. Breastfed infants are sick less often; therefore, maternal absenteeism from work is significantly lower in companies with established lactation programs. In addition, employer medical costs are lower and employee productivity is higher.
- The Healthy People 2010 Goal for breastfeeding initiation is 75%. Nevada currently exceeds this goal as its statewide initiation rate was 76.5%, NIS, 2005. However, breastfeeding rates dramatically fall to under 50% by three months of age.
- Carson City and Lyon County had the highest breastfeeding initiation rates in the state of Nevada at 74.6% and 72.3% respectively, PedNss, 2006.
- By ethic group, the initiation rate of breastfeeding was 53.0% for whites, 34.9% for blacks, 58.4% for Hispanics, 47.6% for Asian and Pacific Islanders. This data is consistent with research that indicates non-Hispanic blacks have lower breastfeeding rates, PedNss, 2006.
- The Healthy People 2010 Goal for breastfeeding duration at 6 months is 50%. Nevada’s breastfeeding duration rate at 6 months is 40.1%, NIS, 2005.
- By ethnic group, the breastfeeding duration rate at 6 months was 17.1% for whites, 9.3% for blacks, 28.1% for Hispanics, 16.5% for Asian and Pacific Islanders, PedNss, 2006.