ATLANTA, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- From 2000 to 2008, the number of U.S. mothers who started breastfeeding increased more than 4 percentage points, federal health officials said.
The report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said during the same time period, the number of mothers still breastfeeding at six months jumped nearly 10 percentage points, from 35 percent in 2000 to nearly 45 percent in 2008.
In addition to increases among all groups, gaps in breastfeeding rates between African-American and white mothers narrowed -- from 24 percentage points in 2000 to 16 percentage points in 2008, the report said.
"Breastfeeding is good for the mother and for the infant -- and the striking news here is, hundreds of thousands more babies are being breastfed than in past years, and this increase has been seen across most racial and ethnic groups," Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said in a statement.
"Despite these increases, many mothers who want to breastfeed are still not getting the support they need from hospitals, doctors, or employers. We must redouble our efforts to support mothers who want to breastfeed."
All mothers need more support to continue breastfeeding since less than half of mothers are breastfeeding at six months and less than a quarter of mothers were breastfeeding at 12 months, Frieden said.