(HealthDay News) – The prevalence of breastfeeding, considered by the American Academy of Pediatrics as the normative standard for infant feeding, has grown in the United States, but in 2008, most infants were not being breastfed for the recommended 12 months, according to research published in the Feb. 8 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report.

Jessica A. Allen, MPH, of the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed National Immunization Survey data from 2000–2008 to report on trends in breastfeeding initiation and duration among black, white, and Hispanic infants born during that time period.

The researchers observed an increase over time in the number of infants who had ever breastfed, from 70.3% in 2000 to 74.6% in 2008; the percentages also went up for those breastfeeding for six months, from 34.5%–44.4%, and for those breastfeeding for 12 months, from 16%–23.4%. In 2000, breastfeeding initiation was most prevalent among Hispanics (77.6%), compared with blacks (47.4%) and whites (71.8%). Prevalence of breastfeeding initiation and duration rose among all three ethnic groups by 2008, but black infants still lagged behind the other two groups.

“Despite increases in the prevalence of breastfeeding, fewer than half of the infants in the survey were still breastfeeding at six months, indicating that women who choose to breastfeed their infants need support to continue breastfeeding,” the authors write.

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