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Public Opinions About Breastfeeding

SummerStyles Survey

Mothers in public with thier infants

SummerStyles (formerly called HealthStyles) is a private, proprietary national marketing survey that annually collects health-related opinions of men and women aged 18 years or older. A wide variety of breastfeeding topics have been surveyed since 1999, such as public opinions toward breastfeeding policies, support for breastfeeding at workplaces, beliefs about the benefits of breastfeeding, and feelings of embarrassment regarding breastfeeding in public. Click the year to see the questions and results on public opinions regarding breastfeeding that year.

Mother looking through a filing cabinet with an infant

For additional information regarding CDC’s involvement in the annual SummerStyles/HealthStyles Survey, contact the Strategic and Proactive Communications Branch at the CDC Office of Communications via e-mail (SPCBHealthMktg@cdc.gov).

SummerStyles Survey Items

Question # Analyzed Respondents Agree Neither Agree/Disagree Disagree
I am comfortable when mothers breastfeed their babies near me in a public place, such as a shopping center, bus station, etc. 4,121 57.75% 23.13% 19.12%
I believe women should have the right to breastfeed in public places. 4,117 63.74% 23.03% 13.24%
Women should be encouraged to breastfeed. 4,117 62.91% 32.55% 4.54%
Public buildings need to have a room where women could breastfeed and pump milk for their babies. 4,120 57.31% 28.88% 13.81%
A mother needs lots of support to breastfeed her baby. 4,116 49.17% 35.06% 15.77%
I believe employers should provide extended maternity leave to make it easier for mothers to breastfeed. 4,120 46.67% 33.30% 20.02%
I would support financial incentives for employers who make special accommodations to make it easier for mothers to breastfeed. 4,115 41.07% 37.84% 21.09%
There should be paid maternity leave to workers. 4,122 69.72% 20.45% 9.83%
Foods that babies eat influence what they eat as older children. 4,114 60.91% 26.57% 12.52%
Baby and toddler foods should not have added sugar.  4,117 72.04% 22.13% 5.83%

Questions # Analyzed Respondents Agree Neither
Agree/Disagree
Disagree
Infant formula is as good as breast milk 4,247 15.52% 26.28% 58.21%
I believe employers should provide a private room for breastfeeding mothers to pump their milk at work 4,251 56.79% 31.00% 12.21%

Questions # Analyzed Respondents Agree Neither
Agree/Disagree
Disagree
Feeding a baby formula instead of breast milk increases the chances the baby will get sick. 4,003 24.58% 40.04% 35.37%
Breast milk is specially designed to meet a baby’s nutritional needs. 4,009 80.37% 15.84% 3.79%
If a child is not breastfed, she/he will be more likely to become overweight. 4,007 11.06% 45.92% 43.02%
I believe employers should provide a private room for breastfeeding mothers to pump their milk at work. 4,013 51.68% 31.00% 17.32%
There should be laws that protect a mother’s right to pump breast milk while at work. 4,006 52.42% 31.70% 15.88%
There should be a federal law providing paid maternity leave to workers. 4,010 53.74% 26.23% 20.02%
Infant formula is as good as breast milk. 4,014 20.20% 31.99% 47.81%
Where have you seen, heard or read anything about breastfeeding recently? Please check all that apply.  4,008 Percent of those who responded positively
• TV Program 5.89%
• TV Commercial 3.94%
• Radio 2.05%
• Magazines 4.79%
• Newspapers 4.32%
• Internet or the web 6.96%
• Online blog 1.62%
• Billboards or outdoor posters 0.92%
• Some other places 3.94%
• I have not seen anything recently  79.44%
Have you seen or heard a campaign entitled “It’s Only Natural. Mother’s Love. Mother’s Milk”? 4,008 Responses
• Yes 3.92%
• No 79.82%
• Don’t know/not applicable 16.27%

Questions # Analyzed Respondents Agree Neither
Agree/Disagree
Disagree
Feeding a baby formula instead of breast milk increases the chances the baby will get sick. 4,158 25.66% 40.86% 33.48%
Breast milk is specially designed to meet a baby’s nutritional needs. 4,152 82.85% 14.31% 2.84%
If a child is not breastfed, she/he will be more likely to become overweight. 4,154 13.00% 47.76% 39.24%
I believe employers should provide a private room for breastfeeding mothers to pump their milk at work. 4,151 52.28% 29.87% 17.85%
There should be laws that protect a mother’s right to pump breast milk while at work. 4,157 51.91% 31.66% 16.43%
There should be a federal law providing paid maternity leave to workers. 4,153 53.94% 25.60% 20.47%
Infant formula is as good as breast milk. 4,148 20.08% 31.46% 48.46%
Where have you seen, heard or read anything about breastfeeding recently? Please check all that apply. 4,144 Percent of those who responded positively
• TV Program 14.72
• TV Commercial 6.44%
• Radio 4.39%
• Magazines 13.18%
• Newspapers 9.03%
• Internet or the web 14.14%
• Online blog 2.34%
• Billboards or outdoor posters 2.08%
• Some other places 4.83%
• I have not seen anything recently 61.41%
Have you seen or heard a campaign entitled “It’s Only Natural. Mother’s Love. Mother’s Milk”? 4,153 Responses
• Yes 7.44%
• No 87.02%
• Don’t know/not applicable 5.54%

Questions # Analyzed Respondents Agree Neither
Agree/Disagree
Disagree
I believe employers should provide a private room for breastfeeding mothers to pump their milk at work. 4034 56.02 27.81 16.16
Infant formula is as good as breast milk. 4026 18.08 24.64 57.28
I believe employers should provide flexible work schedules, such as flexible break times, for breastfeeding mothers. 4030 64.39 24.49 11.12

Questions # Analyzed Respondents Agree Neither
Agree/Disagree
Disagree
Feeding a baby formula instead of breast milk increases the chances the baby will get sick. 3980 26.37 35.41 38.23
Infant formula is as good as breast milk. 4003 20.53 30.80 48.68
One-year-old children should not be breastfed by their mother. 4021 30.44 35.27 34.29
A mother who breastfeeds has to give up too many lifestyle habits like favorite foods, cigarette smoking, and drinking alcohol. 4035 48.19 21.39 30.42
I believe women should have the right to breastfeed in public places. 4109 58.64 23.42 17.94
Public buildings need to have a room where women could breastfeed and pump milk for their babies. 4082 55.18 29.62 15.20
I believe employers should provide flexible work schedules, such as additional break time, for breastfeeding mothers. 4099 43.79 33.14 23.07
I believe employers should provide extended maternity leave to make it easier for mothers to breastfeed. 4071 36.16 35.88 27.96
I believe employers should provide a private room for breastfeeding mothers to pump their milk at work. 4087 45.13 30.43 24.44
There should be a federal law providing paid maternity leave to workers. 4087 46.08 30.40 23.52
It is embarrassing for a mother to breastfeed in front of others. 4070 32.08 35.71 32.20
Breastfeeding is healthier for babies than formula feeding. 4079 72.88 21.97 5.14

Questions # Analyzed Respondents Agree Neither
Agree/Disagree
Disagree
I believe employers should provide flexible work schedules, such as additional break time, for breastfeeding mothers. 4508 56.0% 30.2% 13.8%
I would support tax incentives for employers who make special accommodations to make it easier for mothers to breastfeed. 4459 25.3% 35.9% 38.8%
I believe employers should provide a private room for breastfeeding mothers to pump their milk at work. 4479 45.5% 30.5% 24.0%
I believe employers should provide extended maternity leave to make it easier for mothers to breastfeed. 4490 46.7% 36.3% 17.1%
Breastfeeding or pumping milk at work is a personal choice, not something a manager should have to deal with. 4446 40.6% 33.5% 25.8%
It is inconvenient for others at work when women take time to breastfeed or pump milk during work hours. 4462 26.4% 39.5% 34.1%
There should be a federal law providing paid maternity leave to workers. 4462 44.7% 29.0% 26.3%

Questions # Analyzed Respondents Agree Neither
Agree/Disagree
Disagree
Mothers who breastfeed should do so in private places only. 4,326 35.8% 26.0% 38.2%
I am comfortable when mothers breastfeed their babies near me in a public place, such as a shopping center, bus station, etc. 4,350 44.1% 24.6% 31.3%
I believe women should have the right to breastfeed in public places. 4,321 52.0% 23.8% 24.2%
Infant formula is as good as breast milk. 4,163 20.2% 27.2% 52.6%

Questions # Analyzed Respondents Agree Neither
Agree/Disagree
Disagree
I believe employers should provide flexible work schedules, such as additional break time, for breastfeeding mothers. 5,142 50.6% 31.5% 17.8%
I believe employers should provide extended maternity leave to make it easier for mothers to breastfeed. 5,100 49.4% 31.3% 19.3%
I believe employers should provide a private room for breastfeeding mothers to pump their milk at work. 4,982 47.2% 28.7% 24.0%
I would support tax incentives for employers who make special accommodations to make it easier for mothers to breastfeed. 4,911 30.3% 34.1% 35.6%

Questions # Analyzed Respondents Agree Neither
Agree/Disagree
Disagree
Feeding a baby formula instead of breastmilk increases the chances the baby will get sick. 4,748 21.4% 32.5% 46.2%
If a child is not breastfed, she/he will be more likely to get ear infections. 4,705 20.7% 34.3% 45%
If a child is not breastfed, she/he will be more likely to get respiratory infections, such as bronchitis, or pneumonia. 4,720 19.1% 32.7% 48.2%
If a child is not breastfed, she/he will be more likely to become overweight. 4,697 9.6% 32.5% 57.9%
If a child is not breastfed, she/he will be more likely to get diarrhea. 4,686 7.1% 32.2% 60.7%
Infant formula is as good as breastmilk. 4,730 28.3% 29.1% 42.6%
Babies should be breastfed at least for the first 6 months. 4,699 49.1% 32.3% 18.6%
Babies should be exclusively breastfed (fed only breastmilk) for the first 6 months. 4,686 27.6% 36.4% 36%
In the past month, have you seen an advertisement on TV that shows pregnant women riding mechanical bulls or in a log rolling competition? 4,753 Responses

• Yes 4.8%
• No 89.5%
• Not Sure 5.7%

Have you seen, heard or read anything about breastfeeding anywhere recently? Please check all that apply. 4,730 Percent of those who responded positively

• TV Program 10.5%
• TV Commercial 9.4%
• Radio 3.3%
• Magazines 21.6%
• Newspapers 7.6%
• Internet or the web 6.3%
• Billboards or outdoor posters 3.7%
• Some other places 9.1%
• Nothing recently 65.2%

How safe is the flu shot for women who are breastfeeding? 4,090 % Responding
Very safe: 10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
Not at all safe: 1
11.1%
3.4%
5.6%
4.3%
6.6%
31.2%
6.1%
6.6%
6.0%
19.2%

Questions # Analyzed Respondents Agree Neither
Agree/Disagree
Disagree
Feeding a baby formula instead of breast milk increases the chances the baby will get sick. 4,275 23.3% 31.0% 45.7%
If a child is not breastfed, she/he will be more likely to get ear infections. 4,273 18.5% 33.5% 48.1%
If a child is not breastfed, she/he will be more likely to get respiratory infections, such as bronchitis, or pneumonia. 4,282 16.5% 36.6% 46.9%
If a child is not breastfed, she/he will be more likely to become overweight. 4,281 7.3% 30.4% 62.3%
If a child is not breastfed, she/he will be more likely to get diarrhea. 4,261 5.7% 28.9% 65.4%
Infant formula is as good as breast milk. 4,247 26.4% 32.0% 41.6%
Babies should be breastfed at least for the first 6 months. 4,259 48.2% 35.2% 16.6%
Babies should be exclusively breastfed (fed only breast milk) for the first 6 months. 4,264 28.6% 35.5% 35.9%
In the past month, have you seen an advertisement on TV that shows pregnant women riding mechanical bulls or in a log rolling competition? 4,290 Responses

• Yes 5.4%
• No 87.2%
• Not Sure 7.5%

Have you seen, heard, or read anything about breastfeeding anywhere recently? Please check all that apply. (Not a likert scale question) 4,233 • TV Program 9.7%
• TV Commercial 7.4%
• Radio 3.2%
• Magazines 19.5%
• Newspapers 6.9%
• Internet or the Web 4.6%
• Billboards or outdoor posters 2.1%
• Some other places 8.9%
• Nothing recently 67.8%

Questions # Analyzed Respondents Agree Neither
Agree/Disagree
Disagree
Feeding a baby formula instead of breast milk increases the chances the baby will get sick. 3,969 24.4% 35.9% 39.6%
If a child is not breastfed, she/he will be more likely to get ear infections. 3,960 19.3% 37.9% 42.8%
If a child is not breastfed, she/he will be more likely to get respiratory infections, such as bronchitis, or pneumonia. 3,953 18.6% 39.2% 42.2%
If a child is not breastfed, she/he will be more likely to become overweight. 3,945 7.4% 35.2% 57.4%
If a child is not breastfed, she/he will be more likely to get diabetes. 3,917 4.0% 33.1% 62.9%
Infant formula is as good as breast milk. 3,958 25.7% 31.5% 42.8%
Mothers who breastfeed should do so in private places only. 3,976 37.0% 26.7% 36.3%
Babies should be breastfed at least for the first 6 months. 3,916 48.9% 35.9% 15.2%
I am comfortable when mothers breastfeed their babies near me in a public place, such as a shopping center, bus station, etc. 3,976 48.1% 21.6% 30.3%
Have you seen, heard or read anything about breastfeeding anywhere recently? Please check all that apply. 3,969 Not a likert scale question
• TV Program 8.0%
• TV Commercial 6.9%
• Radio 2.9%
• Magazines 19.8%
• Newspapers 7.2%
• Internet or the Web 4.5%
• Billboards or outdoor posters 2.2%
• Some other places 7.3%
• Nothing recently 67.3%

Questions # Analyzed Respondents Agree Neither
Agree/Disagree
Disagree
Breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally – it needs to be learned. 4,253 29.0% 38.3% 32.8%
A mother needs lots of support to breastfeed her baby. 4,281 41.0% 39.4% 19.6%
A mother’s friends have a lot of influence on whether or not she breastfeeds her baby. 4,313 30.8% 39.4% 29.8%
A mother’s mother has a lot of influence on whether or not she breastfeeds her baby. 4,261 38.5% 39.2% 22.2%
A mother’s decision to breastfeed is influenced by what she sees others do. 4,262 25.1% 46.7% 28.3%
A father can feel left out if the mother breastfeeds their baby. 4,276 18.9% 31.2% 49.8%
A father has a lot of influence whether or not his baby is breastfed. 3,943 26.1% 39.5% 34.3%
Doctors look down on a mother if she bottle-feeds her baby. 4,247 7.4% 37.1% 55.4%
Doctors don’t always support a mother’s decision to breastfeed her baby. 4,283 15.8% 46.2% 38.0%
Doctors have a lot influence on whether or not a mother breastfeeds her baby. 4,266 31.7% 45.6% 22.7%

Questions # Analyzed Respondents Agree Neither
Agree/Disagree
Disagree
I believe employers should provide flexible work schedules, such as additional break time, for breastfeeding mothers. 3,691 49.7% 31.8% 18.5%
I believe employers should provide extended maternity leave to make it easier for mothers to breastfeed. 3,647 47.4% 32.3% 20.3%
I believe employers should provide a private room for breastfeeding mothers to pump their milk at work. 3,668 43.1% 30.9% 26.0%
I would support tax incentives for employers who make special accommodations to make it easier for mothers to breastfeed. 3,657 27.0% 32.7% 40.2%
I believe women should have the right to breastfeed in public places. 3,680 43.1% 28.6% 28.2%
Shopping malls should provide private places to help women breastfeed their babies. 3,679 52.1% 28.7% 19.2%
Public buildings need to have a room where women could breastfeed and pump milk for their babies. 3,681 40.7% 33.1% 26.2%
I believe breastfeeding education should be available as part of a high school health education curriculum. 3,670 33.5% 30.4% 36.1%
It is appropriate to show a woman breastfeeding her baby on TV programs. 3,624 27.9% 32.5% 39.6%

Questions # Analyzed Respondents Agree Neither
Agree/Disagree
Disagree
Babies ought to be fed cereal or baby food by the time they are three months old. 2,273 31.1% 37.7% 31.2%
One-year-old children should not be breastfed by their mother. 2,322 30.6% 32.6% 36.8%
A mother can’t breastfeed her baby and work or go to school. 2,300 10.4% 11.9% 77.7%
Women commonly have problems making enough milk for their babies. 2,276 12.5% 51.2% 36.3%
Breastfed babies do not feel as close to their fathers and grandparents as bottle fed babies. 2,314 6.5% 24.6% 68.9%
A mother who breastfeeds has to give up too many lifestyle habits like favorite foods, cigarette smoking, and drinking alcohol. 2,296 44.6% 20.3% 35.1%
Breastfeeding is painful to the mother. 2,277 7.6% 28.3% 64.2%
Breastfeeding will tie the mother down and interfere too much with her social life. 2,319 9.0% 18.5% 72.6%
Breastfeeding a baby correctly is hard to learn. 2,295 9.1% 27.4% 63.5%
Breastfed babies cry a lot more than bottle fed babies. 2,261 4.9% 29.0% 66.1%
It is embarrassing for a mother to breastfeed in front of others. 2,254 26.8% 26.6% 46.6%
Breastfeeding will spoil a baby. 2,321 2.8% 12.0% 85.2%

Questions # Analyzed Respondents Agree Neither
Agree/Disagree
Disagree
Breastfeeding is healthier for babies than formula feeding. 2,588 67.6% 25.0% 7.3%
Feeding a baby formula instead of breast milk increases the chances the baby will get sick. 2,557 21.7% 36.9% 41.4%
Infant formula is as good as breast milk. 2,552 14.3% 33.7% 51.9%
I am comfortable when mothers breastfeed their babies near me in a public place, such as a shopping center, bus station, etc. 2,600 49.9% 22.1% 28.0%
Mothers who breastfeed should do so in private places only. 2,607 34.8% 26.2% 38.9%
If a close friend or relative was having a baby, I would recommend she breastfeed 2,573 52.4% 34.6% 12.9%
Women should be encouraged to breastfeed. 2,608 55.2% 35.2% 9.7%

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