Washington County exhibits higher breastfeeding percentages compared to other counties across Oregon. We strive to increase both exclusivity and duration rates (i.e., feeding babies breastmilk only for the first six months). Nurturing and maintaining a breastfeeding relationship between nursing parent and baby includes support for families in a variety of ways. Washington County is committed to identifying and reinforcing those factors that lead to breastfeeding success.
Breastfeeding supports positive health and development in the infant. Some specifics include healthy digestion, optimal brain growth and development, normal weight gain, and healthy teeth and jaw development. Breastfeeding may also protect the infant from developing allergies, asthma, infectious diseases and ear infections, and has a protective effect against SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
Breastfeeding also supports the mother’s health by protecting against breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers, and osteoporosis and bone fractures. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of postpartum depression, heart disease and may delay fertility in those exclusively breastfeeding. Practicing breastfeeding may also build self-confidence and parent-baby bonding. Breastfeeding is economically and environmentally friendly, reducing the need for purchasing formula.
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months. Thereafter, infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to two years of age or older. The longer and more exclusively a mother breastfeeds, the greater health benefits they both receive.
Healthy People 2020 breastfeeding goals include that at least 82% of mothers breastfeed for any length of time and 25.5% of infants exclusively breastfeed for at least the first six months of age.
Washington County and Oregon exceed these goals, with 95% of all mothers breastfeeding their babies for some length of time and over 60% exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months after birth.
Breastfeeding by Race
More than 90% of mothers from all races in Washington County breastfeed their children, and the majority of those breastfeed for at least six months. The percentage exclusively breastfeeding for at least six months ranged from 82% among Japanese mothers to 61% among mothers who identified as Other races.”