Breastfeeding Report Card
United States, 2018
Breastfeeding, with its many known health benefits for infants, children, and mothers, is a key strategy to improve public health. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for about the first 6 months with continued breastfeeding alongside introduction of complementary foods for at least 1 year. To track our nation’s progress on achieving the Healthy People 2020 goals, CDC’s 2018 Breastfeeding Report Card provides a compilation of data on breastfeeding practices and supports in all states, the District of Columbia (DC), Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands.
Percentage of Live Births at Baby-Friendly Facilities, 2018*
What Do the Numbers Tell Us?
Among infants born in 2015 in the United States, 4 out of 5 (83.2%) started to breastfeed, over half (57.6%) were breastfeeding at 6 months, and over one-third (35.9%) were breastfeeding at 12 months. Compared to rates for infants born in 2014, rates for infants born in 2015 increased for breastfeeding at 6 and 12 months.
Percentage of infants breastfed through 6 months
Percentage of infants breastfed exclusively through 6 months
High breastfeeding initiation rates show that most mothers in the United States want to breastfeed and start out doing so. However, despite the recommendation to breastfeed exclusively for about the first 6 months, less than 50% of infants were exclusively breastfed through 3 months and about 25% were exclusively breastfed through 6 months. These rates suggest that mothers may not be getting the support they need from health care providers, family members, and employers to meet their breastfeeding goals. The rates of exclusive breastfeeding through 3 and 6 months have generally been increasing each year; however, they stayed virtually the same among infants born in 2015, compared with infants born in 2014. Approximately 1 in 6 (17.2%) breastfed infants born in 2015 received formula supplementation within the first 2 days of life.
The early postpartum period is a critical time for establishing and supporting breastfeeding. Recognizing this, one of the Healthy People 2020 objectives is to increase the proportion of live births that occur in facilities that provide the recommended care for lactating mothers and their babies. This indicator is measured as the percentage of births in facilities that are designated through the World Health Organization/UNICEF Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (“Baby-Friendly”). In 12 states, over 40% of all births occur in Baby-Friendly facilities. Over 1 million babies are now born in Baby-Friendly facilities each year and the Healthy People 2020 objective has been met.
Breastfeeding support from worksites is also critical as women return to work. Healthy People 2020 includes a goal to increase the proportion of employers that have worksite lactation support programs. In 2018, almost half (49%) of employers provide a separate onsite lactation room/mother’s room.† Overall, 5 of 8 Healthy People 2020 objectives for breastfeeding have been met nationally.
All sectors of society (family and friends, hospitals, health care offices/clinics, childcare facilities, community-based organizations, and workplaces) can play a role in improving the health of families by supporting breastfeeding. To reach their breastfeeding goals, mothers need continuity of care, which is achieved by consistent, collaborative, and high-quality breastfeeding services and support.
†Data for this Healthy People 2020 indicator are not available at the state level.
|Breastfeeding Rates among Infants Born in 2015*/ Percentage of Live Births Occurring at Baby-Friendly Facilities, 2018†|
|State/Territory||Ever breastfed||Breastfeeding at 6 months||Breastfeeding at 12 months||Exclusive breastfeeding through 3 months||Exclusive breastfeeding through 6 months||Breastfed infants receiving formula before 2 days of age||Live births occuring at Baby-Friendly facilities, 2018|
|District of Columbia||83.0||65.5||43.6||52.6||29.1||14.0||49.0|
|US Virgin Islands||83.9||51.9||33.1||31.6||19.9||27.0||0.0|
*Source: CDC National Immunization Survey (NIS) 2016-2017, among 2015 births. Breastfeeding rate indicators are the percentage of infants breastfeeding at the specified time points, calculated among all infants. The rate for infants receiving formula before 2 days of age is calculated among breastfed infants.
†Sources: Baby-Friendly USA, 2018 and National Center for Health Statistics, 2017.
§Data from Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands are not included in the national average for any indicator.
Call to Action
Use your state’s data to:
- Help tell the story of breastfeeding practices and support.
- Monitor progress and celebrate state successes.
- Begin building more comprehensive state profiles that capture the landscape of breastfeeding support.
- Identify opportunities for growth and improvement in maternity care practices.
|Healthy People 2020 Objectives||Target||Current Rates*|
|MICH**-21.1||Increase the proportion of infants who are breastfed:
|MICH-21.2||Increase the proportion of infants who are breastfed:
At 6 months
|MICH-21.3||Increase the proportion of infants who are breastfed:
At 1 year
|MICH-21.4||Increase the proportion of infants who are breastfed:
Exclusively through 3 months
|MICH-21.5||Increase the proportion of infants who are breastfed:
Exclusively through 6 months
|MICH-22||Increase the proportion of employers that have worksite lactation support programs.||38.0%||49.0%|
|MICH-23||Reduce the proportion of breastfed newborns who receive formula supplementation within the first 2 days of life.||14.2%||17.2%|
|MICH-24||Increase the proportion of live births that occur in facilities that provide recommended care for lactating mothers and their babies.||8.1%||26.1%|
*MICH-21 and MICH-23 current rates represent babies born in 2015, National Immunization Survey 2016-2017; MICH-22 current rates represent employers providing an on-site lactation/mother’s room, Society for Human Resource Management, 2018 survey; MICH-24 current rates represent babies born in Baby-Friendly Hospitals and Birth Centers designated as of June 2018, Baby-Friendly USA.
**Maternal Infant and Child Health
Older Breastfeeding Report Cards
- Breastfeeding Report Card, 2016 [PDF-2.72MB]
- Breastfeeding Report Card, 2014 [PDF – 1.21 MB]
- Breastfeeding Report Card, 2013 [PDF – 1.12 MB]
- Breastfeeding Report Card, 2012 [PDF – 848 KB]
- Breastfeeding Report Card, 2011 [PDF – 753 KB]
- Breastfeeding Report Card, 2010 [PDF – 1.8 MB]
- Breastfeeding Report Card, 2009 [PDF – 204 KB]
- Breastfeeding Report Card, 2008 [PDF – 375 KB]
- Breastfeeding Report Card, 2007 [PDF – 473 KB]
Data, Trends and Maps is an interactive tool that provides state-specific data about obesity, nutrition, physical activity, and breastfeeding. Choose “Breastfeeding” as “Indicator Category” to find more state-specific data and view statistics in a variety of formats, including maps, tables, and trend lines.
- Page last reviewed: August 20, 2018
- Page last updated: August 20, 2018
- Content source: