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Tasty Tuesday by Anna Grindeland, RD, CD: August is National Breastfeeding Month

By: Anna Grindeland, RD, CD

On August 6, 2011, USBC officially declared that August is National Breastfeeding Month, a chance to promote the many benefits of breastfeeding and shed light on the many obstacles that women and infants face.

Did you know that the national average of breastfed infants at 6 months is 51.4%, but drops down to 29.2% at 12 months of age?1 The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding for at least 12 months, while the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends to continue breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or longer.2 These recommendations stem from the known sustainability and hunger relief that breastfeeding provides, as well as the many nutritional benefits it offers infants:

  • Breast milk naturally contains nutrients infants need to grow and develop3
  • Breast milk has antibodies that help establish a lifelong healthy immune system
  • Breastfeeding reduces baby's risk for ear infections4
  • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of—and help treats—diarrhea in infants and small children
  • Breast feeding offers protection from allergies, and autoimmune reactions such as eczema

Not only that, but Breastfeeding offers many benefits to the breastfeeding mother:

  • Helps you lose post-pregnancy weight through natural hormonal changes
  • Can help the uterus get back to normal size through oxytocin release
  • Reduces risk of osteoporosis
  • Decrease risk of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers
  • Increases emotional health by reducing anxiety and creating a stronger bond with your child
  • Potential economic savings

According to findings from WHO and a new series on breastfeeding published January 2016 in "The Lancet", breastfeeding can result in large economic savings. Just in the U.S., boosting breastfeeding rates for infants below 6 months could cut treatment costs of common childhood illnesses, such as pneumonia, diarrhea and asthma, by almost $300 billion.5

One of the main goals for Healthy People 2020 is to improve the health and well-being women, infants, children, and families.6

Goals to help women to breastfeed their infants:7

  1. Increase the proportion of infants who are breastfed
  2. Increase the proportion of employers that have worksite lactation support programs
  3. Reduce the proportion of breastfed newborns who receive formula supplementation within the first two days of life
  4. Increase the proportion of live births that occur in facilities that provide recommended care for lactating mothers and their babies

Where can you go to get support for breastfeeding?

For more information and additional support on breastfeeding, visit the Washington Department of Health website at:


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The information found in the Health Library is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice nor does it represent the views or position of WHMC. Readers should always consult with their healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment, including for specific medical needs.