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Black Women Least Likely to Breast-Feed in U.S.
Date:3/25/2010

Just over half attempt it, compared to about three-quarters of whites, Hispanics, CDC says

THURSDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- Messages about the health-boosting powers of breast-feeding aren't reaching black American women as well as their Hispanic or white counterparts, a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests.

The researchers found that while more than 80 percent of Hispanic mothers attempt to breast-feed, and about 74 percent of white moms do, that number falls to 54 percent for black mothers. And one year after delivery, only about 12 percent of black women are still breast-feeding their child as recommended, compared to 24 percent of Hispanic women and more than 21 percent of white women.

The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends that babies be breast-fed exclusively for the first six months of life, and that non-exclusive breast-feeding continue for at least six months thereafter.

"We have seen before that there are racial/ethnic differences in breast-feeding," noted study coauthor Cria Perrine, from the CDC's division of nutrition, physical activity and obesity.

"Hispanics have the highest rates of breast-feeding closely followed by whites and there tends to be a pretty big gap with blacks," she said.

The report is published in the March 26 issue of CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

For the study, Perrine's team analyzed data from the 2004-2008 National Immunization Survey on breast-feeding among different groups and also on state-to-state variations.

Breast-feeding among racial/ethnic groups also varied by state, particularly among black women, with the highest rates of breast-feeding among blacks seen in western states and the lowest in southeastern states, Perrine said.

The reasons for the disparities are not totally clear, Perrine said. "We definitely need more research in t
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