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Breastfeeding in the United States

According to Nix (2015), breastfeeding is an irreplaceable way of giving infants the ideal nutrients needed for development and growth. Mothers should breastfeed for approximately one year, with iron-fortified hard diets introduced after six months. In the U.S., roughly 18.8 percent of infants are breastfed for at least six months compared to 37% of infants globally. However, Nix (2015) argues that the practice of breastfeeding, including initiation and continuation, has been on the rise in the past few years, especially among older and more educated women. Therefore, the increase is heavily attributed to the increasing education and awareness through federal programs, such as the HealthyPeople 2020 and The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, which provide women with more scientific medical evidence persuading them to breastfeed. Different medical findings and resources have played an important part in convincing mothers to breastfeed their children, such as the 2011 CDC report titled Rates of Any and Exclusive Breastfeeding by State Among Children Born in 2011, Gartner et al.’s 2005 report titled Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk, and many others (Nix, 2015).

It is also important to note that certain cultural factors have been identified to discourage mothers from breastfeeding, even if they recognize its full benefits. Some of these cultural factors that influence the decision of mothers to breastfeed in the U.S. include marriage, education level, geographical location, ethnicity/race, age, and socioeconomic status. According to Nix (2015), breastfeeding rates in the country are high among elderly women as well as those with higher education levels and socioeconomic status. This means that women with a college degree (25.5%) and above tend to consider breastfeeding more than those with a high school education (15.8%) and below (13.5%). Also, employed women and those that earn more tend to breastfeed their children more than unemployed and poor women. Also, white women (20.3%) tend to have a higher breastfeeding rate than black women (13.7%), Hispanic women (17.1%), and American Indian women (15.6%).


Nix, S. (2015). William’s basic nutrition and diet therapy (15th ed.). St. Louis, Missouri: Elsevier Inc.


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Why has breastfeeding become more popular in the United States, and what medical findings have persuaded mothers to breastfeed? What cultural or lifestyle factors might discourage a mother from breastfeeding, even though she may recognize its benefits? Use the material in the text and lecture to support your response. Use proper APA citation.



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