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Ask Marilyn: How Long Do Other Mammals Nurse?

Christine Rueger of Germantown, Tennessee, writes:

Marilyn: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends nursing infants for at least the first year. How long do other mammals nurse?

Marilyn responds:

The range is broad. One species of seal nurses only a few days. Orangutans suckle their young for six or seven years. Other mammals vary between these extremes. All mammals except humans nurse their young until they’re independent. This doesn’t mean human mothers should do likewise. Instead, it indicates we have alternatives other animals do not.


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