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.
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
Data Sources for the Breastfeeding Report Card Indicators – 2018
Six indicators profile the extent to which infants are breastfed: (1) Ever breastfed, (2) Breastfeeding at 6 months, (3) Breastfeeding at 12 months, (4) Exclusive breastfeeding through 3 months, (5) Exclusive breastfeeding through 6 months, and (6) Breastfed infants receiving formula before 2 days of age. These indicators are the breastfeeding goals outlined in Healthy People 2020, the nation’s health priorities.
Breastfeeding rates for infants born in 2015 come from the US National Immunization Surveys (NIS) 2016 and 2017. The NIS provides current national, state, and selected urban-area estimates of vaccination coverage rates for US children. Since breastfeeding data are obtained by maternal recall when children are between 19 to 35 months of age, breastfeeding rates are analyzed by birth cohort rather than survey year.
Data source: CDC National Immunization Surveys 2016 and 2017, among children born in 2015.
Available at http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/data/NIS_data/index.htm
Percentage of Worksites Providing Lactation Support Programs
Healthy People 2020 measures the proportion of employers that provide an onsite lactation/mother’s room.
Data source: 2018 Employee Benefits Survey, administered by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
Available at https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/research-and-surveys/pages/2018-employee-benefits.aspxexternal icon*
Percentage of Live Births Occurring at Hospitals or Birth Centers Designated as Baby-Friendly
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to encourage and recognize hospitals and birth centers that offer an optimal level of care for lactation based on the WHO/UNICEF Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.
Data source: Baby Friendly USA. Baby-Friendly Hospitals and Birth Centers designated as of June 2018. Available at http://www.babyfriendlyusa.orgexternal icon*
Number of Live Births by State
Data source: Hamilton BE, Martin JA, Osterman MJK, Driscoll AK, Rossen LM. Births: Provisional data for 2017. Vital Statistics Rapid Release; No 4. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. May 2018. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/vsrr/report004.pdf pdf icon[PDF-810KB]
*Links to non-federal organizations are provided solely as a service to our users. These links do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations or their programs by CDC or the federal government, and none should be inferred. CDC is not responsible for the content of the individual organization web pages found at these links.
- Breastfeeding Report Card, 2016 pdf icon[PDF-2.72MB]
- Breastfeeding Report Card, 2014 pdf icon[PDF – 1.21 MB]
- Breastfeeding Report Card, 2013 pdf icon[PDF – 1.12 MB]
- Breastfeeding Report Card, 2012 pdf icon[PDF – 848 KB]
- Breastfeeding Report Card, 2011 pdf icon[PDF – 753 KB]
- Breastfeeding Report Card, 2010 pdf icon[PDF – 1.8 MB]
- Breastfeeding Report Card, 2009 pdf icon[PDF – 204 KB]
- Breastfeeding Report Card, 2008 pdf icon[PDF – 375 KB]
- Breastfeeding Report Card, 2007 pdf icon[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.