First I want to say, Yay BYU for funding, sponsoring and conducting research on the importance of breastfeeding. You don't have a medical school, and the women in the church associated with you frequently wean their children early, but you are taking the issue on. Good on my alma mater!
Next, the issue of breastfeeding can also be framed as a social issue relating to public health. The book Baby Matters presents a ponderance of research showing that not breastfeeding or weaning early contributes to many of the childhood illnesses that can sometime be perpetuated into adulthood, including mental health issues.
Three out of four new moms try breast-feeding over the bottle, but most of them have quit by the time the baby reaches six months, a new study shows.
Breast or bottle? (Francesco Tonelli for The New York Times)
A report from Brigham Young University shows only 36 percent of babies are breast-fed through six months. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast-feeding through the first year.
The data are based on a weighted sample of more than 60,000 children, collected from national immunization surveys compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although the data are focused on childhood immunization rates, questions also were asked about breast-feeding, giving the researchers a representative sample of nursing patterns in the United States.
The researchers found that children who were most likely to be breast-fed for more than six months typically had mothers with higher levels of education and income. Married women and those who lived in Western states were also more likely to breast-feed. Hispanic women and women born in other countries were also more likely to breast-feed.
Returning to work, being a smoker or living in the Northeast decreased the likelihood of long-term breast-feeding. Notably, low-income women who participated in the subsidized Women, Infants and Children program, which provides food, milk and formula to mothers and young children, were also more likely to stop breast-feeding sooner.
“Breast-feeding promotion programs encourage women to start but don’t provide the support to continue,” said Renata Forste, co-author of the report, published in the August issue of the Journal of Human Lactation.