Breastfeeding Rates Continue To Rise

Moms need ongoing community support to breastfeed as recommended

Press Release

For Immediate Release: Monday, August 22, 2016
Contact: Media Relations
(404) 639-3286

In the United States, more than 8 in 10 mothers (81.1 percent) begin breastfeeding their babies at birth – but many stop earlier than is recommended, according to the 2016 Breastfeeding Report Card released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Good nutrition and optimal health starts with breastfeeding exclusively for about the first six months of life, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. But only about half of babies (51.8 percent) are still breastfeeding at 6 months of age.

“We are pleased by the large number of mothers who start out breastfeeding their infants,” said Ruth Petersen, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. “Mothers can better achieve their breastfeeding goals with active support from their families, friends, communities, clinicians, health care leaders, employers, and policymakers.”

Highlights from the 2016 Breastfeeding Report Card show:

  • Among infants born in 2013, 4 of 5 (81.1 percent) started out breastfeeding. This high percentage of babies who start out breastfeeding shows that most mothers want to breastfeed and are trying to do so.
  • More than half (51.8 percent) of infants were breastfeeding at 6 months.
  • Less than a third (30.7 percent) of infants were breastfeeding at 12 months.

CDC researchers analyzed data on breastfeeding practices and support from 50 states, the District of Columbia (D.C.), and Puerto Rico. Data show that 29 states, including D.C. and Puerto Rico, met the Healthy People 2020 goal of 81.9 percent of infants ever-breastfed (infants that started out breastfeeding). Twelve states met the HP2020 breastfeeding goal for six months breastfeeding duration (60.6 percent) and 19 states met the goal for 12 months breastfeeding duration (34.1 percent).

Mothers and families need breastfeeding support

Many mothers begin breastfeeding but need community support to help them overcome challenges they may face in the hospital, when they go home, or after they return to work. This support might include breastfeeding education programs, improved maternity care practices in hospitals, peer and professional support for moms; and adequate space and equipment to breastfeed or express breast milk in workplaces and childcare centers.

The CDC Breastfeeding Report Card provides state-by-state data to help public health practitioners, health professionals, community members, childcare providers, and family members work together to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding.

For more information on CDC’s work on nutrition and breastfeeding, please visit


Page last reviewed: August 22, 2016