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A subcommittee of the Federal Interagency Working Group on Women's Health and the Environment developed the HHS Blueprint for Action on Breastfeeding (archive) released in October 2000 by the Surgeon General, representing the first comprehensive framework on breastfeeding for the Nation.
The Blueprint focuses attention on the importance of breastfeeding and recommends action steps for the health care system, families, the community, researchers and the workplace to promote breastfeeding. The framework also identifies racial and ethnic disparities that exist in breastfeeding, and reveals extremely low rates that exist among African American women. The plan was developed by several organizations in the medical, business, women's health, advocacy and academic communities and promotes a plan for breastfeeding based on education, training, awareness, support and research. Specifically, the plan lays out a framework based on the recommendation that infants be exclusively breastfed for the first 4-6 months of a baby's life, preferably 6 months.
OWH commissioned an evidence-based review from the Agency for Healthcare and Quality Research to update the scientific evidence presented in the Blueprint published in 2007, the review evaluated all of the recently published studies related to breastfeeding and infant health outcomes, maternal health outcomes, and best practices to promote and support breastfeeding. Read the full review: Breastfeeding and Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes in Developed Countries (PDF, 3.5 MB) (addendum, May 2009).
The review established that breastfeeding is associated with a lower risk of ear infections, stomach viruses, severe lower respiratory infections, atopic dermatitis, asthma, obesity, types 1 and 2 diabetes, childhood leukemia, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and necrotizing enterocolitis in infants. Breastfeeding mothers have a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and breast and ovarian cancer. Stopping breastfeeding early or not breastfeeding raises the risk of postpartum depression.
Content last updated: August 01, 2010.
Resources last updated: August 01, 2010.