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Fewer Mexican Women are Breastfeeding

June 7, 2013
Plain English Version

The facts are in: breastfeeding is the best way to give infants the nutrients and antibodies they need to protect them from infection. The standard set by the World Health Organization is breastfeeding for the first six months of the baby’s life.

The number of new mothers breastfeeding in Mexico has gone down dramatically over the past six years. The percent of women who breastfeed fell from 22 percent in 2006 to 14 percent last year. Today, only one in seven mothers breastfeeds the entire first six months.

That leaves Mexico with nearly the lowest level of breastfeeding in Latin America. Only the Dominican Republic has a lower rate – 8 percent.

In Brazil and Colombia, the percent of mothers breastfeeding has gone up to 39 percent and 47 percent.

Experts note that millions of Mexicans live in poverty, with dirty drinking water. Mexico has the highest infant mortality rate among the world’s 40 largest economies. Moreover, death from breast cancer increased twice as fast in Mexico’s female population. Experts say breastfeeding cuts a woman’s risk of breast cancer by 50 percent.

The industry says they not longer offer free formula in the hospitals. That should increase breastfeeding

Public officials and advocates say one cause is the popularity of baby foods and the advertising promoting them. Others blame doctors and other health care professionals for not encouraging women by giving out information about the pluses of breastfeeding. Others blame the government for paying for formula if recommended by a doctor.

Women say going to work makes it harder to breastfeed. The number of breastfeeding women living rural areas is also Going down.

In the United States, the percent of women breast-feeding has risen to 16 percent in 2012, compared to 11 percent in 2007.

The Miami Herald

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