NH DHHS - New Hampshire Breastfeeding Rates Rise Along with Decrease in Obesity among Low-Income Children

Concord, NH – Breastfeeding rates have continued to rise over the past

decade, according to data released this month by the Centers for Disease

Control and Prevention (CDC). In New Hampshire, the percentage of babies

being breastfed at six months of age increased from 34% in 2000 to 54% in

2010. The percentage of babies being breastfed at 12 months also increased

from 19% to 26% during that same time period. The data show that babies who

started breastfeeding increased from 81% in 2000 to 86% in 2010.

“This is great news for the health of New Hampshire because babies who are

breastfed have lower risks of ear and gastrointestinal infections,

diabetes, and obesity, and mothers who breastfeed have lower risks of

breast and ovarian cancers,” said DPHS Director, José Montero, Director of

Public Health at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

“Also, breastfeeding lowers health care costs and it gives babies the

healthiest start in life nutritionally. It is important that we continue

working to improve hospital, community and workplace support for

breastfeeding mothers and babies and realize these cost savings and health


Hospitals are an important setting for supporting breastfeeding mothers and

babies. The CDC reports that the percentage of hospitals implementing key

maternity practices that keep mothers and babies together after birth have

also increased. In New Hampshire, the percentage of live births occurring

at Baby Friendly Facilities has increased from about 16% in 2007 to 27% in


Other positive data show that after decades of rising rates, obesity among

low-income preschoolers declined slightly in New Hampshire, along with 18

other states and U.S. territories from 2008 through 2011, according to the

CDC. Policies and efforts that promote physical activity and healthy eating

such as Baby Friendly hospitals and support for childcare providers to

improve nutrition, increase physical activity, and decrease computer and

television time for young children are effective strategies in reducing


“Research shows that children are five times more likely to be overweight

or obese as an adult if they are overweight or obese between the ages of

three and five years. New Hampshire has begun to see small changes among

low-income children,” continued Montero. “This is encouraging but we have

to continue to make progress in this area for the sake of our children.”

The obesity and overweight data are from the Pediatric Nutrition

Surveillance System, which collects data on preschool children enrolled in

the New Hampshire WIC Nutrition Program. Heights and weights of

approximately 8,500 children per year showed a decrease in obesity from

15.5% in 2007 to 14.6% in 2011. Decreases are attributed to changes in the

WIC food package of healthier foods, and statewide efforts to promote

healthier eating and active living.

For more information about New Hampshire’s efforts to support

breastfeeding, visit www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/nhp/wic/breastfeeding.htm . To

view the recent data on breastfeeding from the CDC visit

www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/data/reportcard . For more information about

childhood obesity, visit www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood