In the United States, most infants (83.2%) start out breastfeeding, but many stop earlier than recommended, according to the 2018 Breastfeeding Report Card released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
For most infants, good nutrition starts with breastfeeding exclusively for about the first 6 months of life, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Although nearly 6 in 10 (57.6 %) babies are still breastfeeding at 6 months of age, only 1 in 4 (24.9%) are breastfeeding exclusively.
To track the nation’s breastfeeding progress, the CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO) uses data from CDC’s National Immunization Survey (NIS). These data allow us to measure whether we are meeting the nation’s breastfeeding targets, as outlined in Healthy People 2020. Currently, the nation is meeting 5 of the 8 Healthy People 2020 breastfeeding objectives.
Among infants born in 2015:
- More than 4 out of 5 (83.2%) started out breastfeeding.
- Almost half (46.9%) were exclusively breastfeeding at 3 months old.
- More than one-third (35.9%) of infants were breastfeeding at 12 months old.
- More than 1 in 4 babies are now born in facilities that provide recommended maternity care practices for breastfeeding mothers and their babies.
- Almost half (49%) of employers provide work site lactation support programs.
For the first time, the Breastfeeding Report Card includes data for Guam and the US. Virgin Islands.
Many hospitals are making strides to implement maternity care practices that support breastfeeding.
Facilities designated through the World Health Organization/UNICEF Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (“Baby-Friendly” facilities) are those that provide recommended care for lactating mothers and babies. The percentage of live births occurring in “Baby-Friendly” facilities increased from less than 2% in 2008 to 26.1% in 2018, which is currently about 1 million births. This increase shows improved maternity care practices that support mothers and infants.
All sectors of society can play a role in improving the health of families by supporting breastfeeding. To reach their breastfeeding goals, mothers need continuity of care through consistent, collaborative, and high-quality breastfeeding services and support.
For more information about how DNPAO is working to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding, please visit: