Of the approximately 4 million babies born in 2015, most (83.2 percent) started 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).
Good nutrition starts with breastfeeding exclusively (only breast milk) for about the first six months of life, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Policy on Breastfeeding
While nearly 6 in 10 (57.6 percent) infants are still breastfeeding at 6 months of age, only 1 in 4 are breastfeeding exclusively.
“We are pleased that most US babies start out breastfeeding and over half are still breastfeeding at 6 months of age,” said Ruth Petersen, MD, MPH, director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. “The more we support breastfeeding mothers, the more likely they will be able to reach their breastfeeding goals.”
Breastfeeding provides benefits for babies and mothers
Infants who are breastfed have reduced risks of asthma, obesity, type 2 diabetes, ear and respiratory infections, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Breastfeeding can also help lower a mother’s risk of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and ovarian and breast cancer.
Highlights from the 2018 Breastfeeding Report Card show:
Among infants born in 2015, 4 out of 5 (83.2 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.
Almost half (46.9 percent) were exclusively breastfeeding at 3 months.
Only one-third (35.9 percent) of infants were breastfeeding at 12 months.
Almost half (49 percent) of employers provide worksite lactation support programs.
Over 1 in 4 babies are born in facilities that provide recommended maternity care practices for breastfeeding mothers and their babies.
CDC researchers analyzed data on breastfeeding practices and support from 50 states, the District of Columbia (D.C.), Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands. For the first time, the Breastfeeding Report Card includes data for Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Mothers and families benefit from breastfeeding support from all sectors
CDC’s recommendations for support to mothers include encouraging hospitals and health care staff to implement practices that support breastfeeding, including helping patients identify covered benefits, such as breast pumps and access to lactation consultants, to help support the mothers’ transition back to home, to school, and/or to work.
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 worksite accommodations and continuity of care through consistent, collaborative and high-quality breastfeeding services. They need the support from their doctors, lactation consultants and counselors, and peer counselors.
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 www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES