Hospital Breastfeeding Support Virtually Non-Existent, Study Finds


Breastfeeding education and support is adequately provided in fewer than 4 percent of U.S. hospitals, finds a recently released report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Only 14 percent of hospitals in the U.S. have a written policy on breastfeeding, and nearly 80 percent of all hospitals resort to giving healthy infants formula instead of encouraging breastfeeding when there are no medical indicators of it not being possible. Rooming in, which allows the mothers and newborn babies 24-hour access to learn how to breastfeed is only practiced in one-third of hospitals, and nearly 75 percent of families leaving hospitals with newborns do not get any breastfeeding support, including follow-up visits or phone calls, or referrals to lactation consultants or other community support systems.

“Hospitals play a vital role in supporting a mother to be able to breastfeed,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.  “Those first few hours and days that a mom and her baby spend learning to breastfeed are critical.  Hospitals need to better support breastfeeding, as this is one of the most important things a mother can do for her newborn. Breastfeeding helps babies grow up healthy and reduces health care costs.”

According to the report, with proper hospital support and education, more than $2 billion in medical costs could be avoided each year if breastfeeding were more commonplace as babies who are fed formulas from an early age have higher rates of obesity, diabetes and respiratory and ear infections, which lead to more frequent doctor visits, hospitalizations and prescriptions.

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Photo: Daquella manera

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites and, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better.