14% Follow Advice

On Breast-Feeding

Fourteen percent of American mothers exclusively breast-feed their babies for the recommended minimum of six months, according to government data released yesterday.

New state-by-state statistics show that Oregon has the highest rate of mothers meeting the minimum standard, but even there just 25 percent are able to give their babies breast milk and nothing else for six months, the report shows.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization and most other experts recommend that mothers give their babies breast milk only -- no formula, juice or solid food -- until they are 6 months old.

Studies have shown that when babies are exclusively breast-fed for the first six months of life they grow better without getting too fat, are less likely to develop infections and may keep those benefits through childhood.

The recommendations add that mothers should breast-feed babies until they are 2 years old if possible but at the very least for a full year, adding juice, formula and solid food to suit the baby's appetite.

Lower-income mothers and black mothers were the least likely to breast-feed.

Animals Blamed for

26,000 Road Injuries

Deer, cows and even squirrels are to blame for more than 26,000 injuries along the nation's roads each year, the government said yesterday.

It is the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has examined how many people suffer nonfatal injuries in car accidents involving animals.

In half of the animal-related accidents surveyed in 2001 and 2002, motorists were injured by hitting the animal, while the other half were hurt by swerving to avoid them, said Ann Dellinger of the CDC's motor vehicle injury prevention team.

"We can't really say whether it's better to brake or better to swerve and avoid the animal," Dellinger said. "You have to drive responsibly and make sure that you are buckled up."

Each year, about 200 people die in animal-related crashes out of the nearly 44,000 traffic fatalities nationwide. There were 247,000 crashes involving animals in 2000, the latest federal highway data available.

Warmer Pacific Waters

May Signal El Nino

Warming water temperatures in the central equatorial Pacific last month may signal a new El Nino.

El Nino, which can affect weather conditions around the world, is often first seen as increased sea surface temperatures in the Pacific along with changes in wind patterns.

Sea surface temperatures rose nearly 1 degree Fahrenheit above normal in July, with even higher readings to the east, the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center said yesterday.

The temperature increases, the agency said, "indicate the possible early stages of a warm episode."

The report said the normal easterly winds in mid-June through early July weakened in many areas of the equatorial Pacific.

El Nino -- which combines changes in temperature, wind and air pressure over the Pacific -- can change the flow of the atmosphere. The effects range from drought in Indonesia, Australia and Africa to storms in California and floods elsewhere.

The 1997 El Nino caused an estimated $20 billion in damage worldwide.

-- From News Services