LANSING (AP) – The federal government would like to see 75 percent of all newborns breast-fed, but only around two-thirds of Michigan infants were breast-fed in 2005.

The information comes from the National Immunization Survey available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. It also shows that Michigan doesn’t even come close to meeting the national goal for 6-month-olds: Just 33 percent of children are breast-fed, far shy of the 50 percent goal.

“One of the big barriers for breast-feeding is work,” Dr. Sheila Gahagan, president of the Michigan chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told the Lansing State Journal for a story that ran yesterday. “There are very few breast-feeding-friendly workplaces.”

From 2003 to 2004, the state trended upward; the percentage of infants who had been breast-fed at some point in their lives rose from 63.3 percent to 67.7 percent. Then came 2005 and the slight dip, which can be explained by the survey’s margin of error of about 5 percent.

Even so, medical experts want to see an upward trend that puts Michigan on a course to reach the federal goal by 2010.

The breast-feeding of infants is estimated to save $3.6 billion nationally and millions of dollars statewide, according to a Michigan surgeon general’s report titled Healthy Michigan 2010. The reasoning is children who are breast-fed have fewer ear infections and inflammations of the stomach and intestines.

For 34-year-old mother Alana Reome, it was relatively easy to breast-feed her daughter for eight months. Her employer, Jackson National Life Insurance Co., set aside a room in its Lansing-area headquarters for employees to breast-feed in peace and privacy, complete with a glider chair, magazines and a sink.

“It’s one thing that helps you balance your work and personal life,” Reome said. “It gives you peace of mind. You can do what’s best for your family and do what’s best at work.”

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