HealthDay News — From 2009 to 2015, there was improvement in breastfeeding rates in most race/ethnicity groups, although disparities between black and white infants widened, according to a study published online Oct. 14 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Ruowei Li, MD, PhD, from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues used data from 167,842 infants from the National Immunization Survey-Child to examine breastfeeding trends by race/ethnicity from 2009 to 2015.

The researchers observed an increase in the overall unadjusted breastfeeding rates from 2009 to 2015 by 7.1, 9.2, and 11.3 percentage points for initiation, exclusivity, and duration, respectively, with considerable variation by race/ethnicity. Significant increases in breastfeeding rates were seen for most racial/ethnic groups. Disparities in adjusted breastfeeding rates became larger between black and white infants from 2009-2010 to 2014-2015; for example, the difference in exclusive breastfeeding through 6 months of age widened from 0.5 to 4.5 percentage points. In contrast, differences in breastfeeding between Hispanic, Asian, and American Indian or Alaskan Native infants and white infants became smaller or stayed the same, except for continued breastfeeding among Asians at 12 months.

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“Continuing to improve breastfeeding supports and access to a variety of support services and professionals, with a specific emphasis on equity, may help improve breastfeeding rates among all women,” the authors write. “Significant efforts are also needed to improve breastfeeding rates among black infants.”

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