Key Breastfeeding Indicators
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 [PDF-30.6MB] recommend that infants be exclusively breastfed for about the first 6 months with continued breastfeeding while introducing appropriate complementary foods for 1 year or longer. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization also recommend exclusive breastfeeding for about the first 6 months with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods for up to 2 years of age or older. 1,2
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*||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 Objectives
†Baseline rates represent infants born in 2015, National Immunization Survey.
|Key Breastfeeding Indicators||Current Rates|
|Percentage of infants who are breastfed: Ever.*||83.2|
|Percentage of infants who are breastfed: At 6 months.*||55.8|
|Percentage of infants who are breastfed: At 1 year.*||35.9|
|Percentage of infants who are breastfed: Exclusively through 3 months.*||45.3|
|Percentage of infants who are breastfed: Exclusively through 6 months.*||24.9|
|Percentage of breastfed newborns who receive formula supplementation within the first 2 days of life.*||19.2|
*Current rates represent infants born in 2019, National Immunization Survey 2020–2021.
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.
Breastfeeding Disparities Exist.
- Fewer non-Hispanic Black infants (74.1%) are ever breastfed compared with Asian infants (90.8%), non-Hispanic White infants (85.3%) and Hispanic infants (83.0%).3
- Infants eligible for and receiving the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) are less likely to ever be breastfed (74.7%) than infants eligible, but not receiving WIC (85.6%), and infants ineligible for WIC (91.2%).3
- Younger mothers aged 20 to 29 years are less likely to ever breastfeed (79.9%) than mothers aged 30 years or older (84.9%).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.
- American Academy of Pediatrics. Section on Breastfeeding; Policy Statement: Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk. Pediatrics. 2022; 150 (1): e2022057988. 10.1542/peds.2022-057988.
- World Health Organization. WHO Breastfeeding website.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Immunization Survey (NIS) website.
- Odom EC, Li R, Scanlon KS, Perrine CG, Grummer-Strawn L. Reasons for earlier than desired cessation of breastfeeding. Pediatrics. 2013;131(3):e726–732.
- Sriraman NK, Kellams A. Breastfeeding: What are the barriers? Why women struggle to achieve their goals.J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2016;25(7):714–722.
- 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-343KB] Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); July 2018.