Despite the health benefits, a recent survey found that Black mothers are less likely to breast feed than their white or Hispanic counterparts

A state-by-state analysis released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that 54 percent of African-American women attempt to breast-feed their babies, compared to 80 percent of Hispanics and 74 percent of whites. In Illinois, 45.9 percent of black women attempt breast-feeding.

Overall, 73 percent of American women try breast-feeding, though less than half are still doing it after six months, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The figures, published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, are based on phone interviews with about 100,000 moms of children born between 2003 and 2006.

Researchers noted that while the gap between blacks and whites in initiating breast-feeding is smaller than in 1990, there's been no improvement in prevalence of breast-feeding to six months.

"There's some amount of it that's the socioeconomic difference, but there seems to be something else going on," said the CDC's Cria Perrine, a co-author of the study. "There's not a ton of research on the why."

Factors that can contribute to lower rates include the mother being younger, unmarried or less educated and participating in the federal Women, Infants and Children supplemental nutrition program. But even among college-educated women, a racial disparity still exists.

Continue reading from the SOURCE: THE CHICAGO SUN-TIMES