The federal government says its efforts to encourage more women to breastfeed are paying off in Wisconsin and in the rest of the country.
The number of women breastfeeding across the country rose about 2 percent last year from the year before. The Centers for Disease Control says that is largest year-to-year increase in the past decade. The Midwest has traditionally lagged behind other regions in the U.S. when it comes to breastfeeding. Spokesperson for the Centers of Disease Control Carol MacGowin says that is beginning to change. Wisconsin's rate of breastfeeding is now above the national average. "In terms of getting mother to breast feed and getting them to start breastfeeding, Wisconsin is definitely leading the way in the Midwest."
A little more than 81 percent of women are breastfeeding in Wisconsin, when the national average is about 76 percent. MacGowin says the center is interested in growing that number not only because it is better for newborns, but also because in an era of skyrocketing health care costs, breastfeeding saves a lot of money. "Babies that are breastfed are less likely to be ill, so they are less like to have acute ear infections, eczema, lower respiratory infections. So their hospitalizations are going to be less, so there is an economic benefit to society."
MacGowin says even though Wisconsin's breastfeeding rates are leading the Midwest, the state still needs to focus on promoting breastfeeding among African American women.