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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Hopkinson, Judy
item Schanler, Richard

Submitted to: Electronic Publication
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/21/2005
Publication Date: 4/1/2006
Citation: Hopkinson, J., Schanler, R.J. 2006. Breastfeeding in the perinatal period. UpToDate Online Journal [serial online]. 14.2. Available:

Interpretive Summary: Breastfeeding in the perinatal period (in the period around the time of birth) is reviewed here. The composition of human milk, complications and benefits of breastfeeding are discussed separately.

Technical Abstract: Human milk is recognized by the American Academy of Pediatrics as the optimal feeding for all infants, although supplementation with specially formulated human milk fortifiers is required to meet the nutritional needs of premature newborns. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months after birth, and partial breastfeeding (breastmilk plus complementary foods) for up to at least 12 months of age, and thereafter for as long as mutually desired. The World Health Organization advises that partial breastfeeding continue up to two years of age, and beyond. Despite these recommendations, breastfeeding is initiated by only 70 percent of women in the United States and continued for six months by 33%. Goals for Healthy People 2010 include increasing the proportion of women who initiate breastfeeding and continue for six months to 75 and 50%, respectively. The Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture estimates that achievement of this goal would result in annual savings of over $3.6 billion due to reductions in infant morbidity.

Last Modified: 06/26/2017
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