Facts

Key Breastfeeding Indicators

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for about the first 6 months with continued breastfeeding while introducing appropriate complementary foods for 1 year or longer.1 The World Health Organization also recommends exclusively breastfeeding up to 6 months with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to 2 years of age or older.2

Although most infants receive some breast milk, most are not exclusively breastfeeding or continuing to breastfeed as long as recommended.

Healthy People 2030 Breastfeeding Objectives
Healthy People 2030 Breastfeeding Objectives* Baseline Target
Increase the proportion of infants who are breastfed exclusively through 6 months of age. 24.9%† 42.4%
Increase the proportion of infants who are breastfed at 1 year. 35.9%† 54.1%
*Healthy People 2030 Breastfeeding Objectivesexternal icon
†Baseline rates represent infants born in 2015, National Immunization Survey.
Key Breastfeeding Indicators of Infants Born in 2017, National Immunization Survey 2018-2019
Key Breastfeeding Indicators Current Rates
Percentage of infants who are breastfed: Ever.* 84.1
Percentage of infants who are breastfed: At 6 months.* 58.3
Percentage of infants who are breastfed: At 1 year.* 35.3
Percentage of infants who are breastfed: Exclusively through 3 months.* 46.9
Percentage of infants who are breastfed: Exclusively through 6 months.* 25.6
Percentage of employers that have worksite lactation support programs. † 51.0
Percentage of breastfed newborns who receive formula supplementation within the first 2 days of life.* 19.2
*Current rates represent infants born in 2017, National Immunization Survey 2018–2019.
†Current rates represent employers providing an on-site lactation/mother’s room, Society for Human Resource Management, 2019 surveyexternal icon.

Rates of Breastfeeding Vary Across States and Regions.

  • Infants living in the Southeast are less likely to be breastfed at 6 months than infants living in other areas of the country (see map below).3
  • Infants in rural areas are less likely to ever breastfeed than infants living in urban areas.3
  • For state-by-state breastfeeding rates, please visit the Breastfeeding Rates page. Historic data are also available in DNPAO’s online Data, Trends, and Maps database.

Percentage of Infants Breastfed at 6 Months

Percentage of Infants Breastfed at 6 Months

Breastfeeding Disparities Exist.

  • Fewer non-Hispanic Black infants (73.7%) are ever breastfed compared with Asian infants (90%), non-Hispanic White infants (86.7%) and Hispanic infants (84.1%).3
  • Infants eligible for and receiving the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) are less likely to ever be breastfed (77.0%) than infants eligible, but not receiving WIC (82.1%), and infants ineligible for WIC (92.1%).3
  • Younger mothers aged 20 to 29 years are less likely to ever breastfeed (82.4%) than mothers aged 30 years or older (85.2%).3

Why Do Mothers Stop Breastfeeding Early?

Sixty percent of mothers do not breastfeed for as long as they intend to.4 How long a mother breastfeeds her baby (duration) is influenced by many factors including:

  • Issues with lactation and latching.4
  • Concerns about infant nutrition and weight.4
  • Mother’s concern about taking medications while breastfeeding.4
  • Unsupportive work policies and lack of parental leave.5
  • Cultural norms and lack of family support.5
  • Unsupportive hospital practices and policies.6

What Can You Do to Support Breastfeeding?

Visit The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding to learn how you can participate in a society-wide approach to support mothers and babies who are breastfeeding.

What Is Being Done to Improve Rates?

Because of the importance of breastfeeding for the health of mothers and babies, CDC supports breastfeeding through hospital initiatives, work site accommodation, continuity of care, and community support initiatives.

For more information about hospital maternity practices in the United States that support breastfeeding, read “Vital Signs: Improvements in Maternity Care Policies and Practices That Support Breastfeeding—United States, 2007–2013.”

References

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Section on Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milkexternal iconPediatrics. 2012;129(3):e827-841. DOI 2011-3552. Accessed July 30, 2020.
  2. World Health Organization. WHO Breastfeeding websiteexternal icon. Accessed July 30, 2020.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Immunization Survey (NIS) website. Accessed July 30, 2020.
  4. Odom EC, Li R, Scanlon KS, Perrine CG, Grummer-Strawn L. Reasons for earlier than desired cessation of breastfeedingexternal iconPediatrics. 2013;131(3):e726–732. Accessed July 30, 2020.
  5. Sriraman NK, Kellams A. Breastfeeding: What are the barriers? Why women struggle to achieve their goalsexternal icon.J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2016;25(7):714–722. Accessed July 30, 2020.
  6. Feltner C, Weber RP, Stuebe A, Grodensky CA, Orr C, Viswanathan M. Breastfeeding Programs and Policies, Breastfeeding Uptake, and Maternal Health Outcomes in Developed Countries. pdf icon[PDF-343KB]external icon Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); July 2018. Accessed September 21, 2020.