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Federal report: More Michigan babies breastfeeding | Families

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Federal report: More Michigan babies breastfeeding
Families, Health, News
Federal report: More Michigan babies breastfeeding

GREENVILLE, Mich. (Detroit Free Press) -- In a state where nearly 7 in every 1,000 babies die before their first birthdays, efforts to promote breastfeeding in hospitals and homes of new moms seem to paying off, according to a new federal report.

Health experts say one of the best ways to fortify baby against a world full of disease is with mother’s milk.

In 2013, three of four babies born in Michigan are breastfed at least once, with nearly 1 in four still being breastfeed a year later, according to the 2014 Breastfeeding Report Card by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

The reasons?

Efforts by local hospitals and health advocates to focus on the first hours and days after birth.

“The first 48 hours are critical,” said Laurence Grummer-Strawn, chief of the Nutrition Branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Based on random sampling, the report added another year of data that highlight breastfeeding efforts. Among the Michigan numbers:

  •  About 75% of babies were breastfed in 2013 compared to about 63% in 2007. Nationally, about 79% of babies are breastfed at least once.
  • About 16% of babies were being exclusively breastfed at 6 months old in 2013, compared to about 8% in 2007.
  • Just more than 15% of babies were given formula in the first 48 hours of life in 2013 compared to more than 32% in 2009.

The number of board-certified lactation consultants in Michigan compared to births continued to grow as well — 2.79 consultants for every 1,000 births last year compared to 1.96 in 2007.

In Michigan, three hospitals — St. John in Detroit, Beaumont in Grosse Pointe, and Spectrum in Greenville — have received designation by Baby Friendly USA as hospitals that have met strict criteria as baby friendly, according to a Angela Minicuci, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Oftentimes, that means dropping well-worn practices, such as automatically offering formula to new moms, moving the baby to a nursery rather than staying with the mother, or giving breast-feeding babies pacifiers.

“Oftentimes it’s routine: ‘Let’s give the baby a bottle and let mom sleep,’” Grummer-Strawn said.

All this makes it more difficult for the baby to learn to latch on to a natural nipple early, he said.

Yet systemic routines are not easy to change, Grummer-Strawn said.

“We do know they’re are challenges. Any change can be difficult ... There’s a whole lot of people you have to train and to convince that this is the right thing to do,” he said.

Those efforts are limited, too. Fewer than 1% of Michigan’s babies are born in those hospitals, according to the CDC report.

About a dozen states have worse infant mortality rates than Michigan’s, according to a report by the California-based Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit agency that conducts health research, and the CDC.

Those numbers are highest in Detroit — about 13.6 deaths per 1,000 live births, according to the most recent numbers by the state health department.

But those state numbers have fallen in recent years — from 8.0 deaths for each 1,000 live births in 2007 to 6.6 deaths in 2013, according the state.

Contact Robin Erb at rerb@freepress.com or 313-222-2708. Follow her on Twitter https://twitter.com/FreepHealth.

Families, Health, News