Breastfeeding Rates in the US

What has gone so wrong with breastfeeding in our country?  The United States lags behind most nations around the world in our breastfeeding initiation rates.  However, more importantly perhaps, is how short our breastfeeding duration rates are.  The majority of US mothers are all for giving breastfeeding a shot.  The percentage of mothers who “ever breastfeed” after birth is between 48.3% in Mississippi and 92.8% in Utah.  These numbers are based upon the CDC’s breastfeeding report card from 2008 which shows all of our states and what rates were reported.   If you check out the report card yourself, you can see our Southern states are having the hardest time.  If you go East, North, West, out to Hawaii, up to Alaska, they are doing better.  But by the time the baby has reached three months of age, all of these rates have plummeted dramatically!   Mississippi is down to 16.8% of moms who are still breastfeeding exclusively at 3 months and even Utah, our leader in breastfeeding, is down to 50.8%!  We are losing about one half of our breastfeeding families in the first three months.  By one year, only 8.13% of babies in Mississippi are breastfeeding and in Utah, 33.9%.  How are we doing in Michigan?  Not so well.  Our initiation rate is 64.8%, 23.5% are exclusively breastfeeding at three months, and only 14.4% at one year.  It seems as though breastfeeding is failing in the US.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of their baby’s lives.  “Exclusively” means nothing but mom’s milk.  They then recommend that babies are breastfed for at least one year (my italics).   This means one year is the minimum that our United States Pediatricians feel babies need to be fed their mother’s milk.  WHO (World Health Organization) recommends human babies are fed their mother’s milk for at least two years!  Again, we are lucky here if we get a few months of breastfeeding in.  All this being said, I really don’t think this is the mother’s, the baby’s, the partner’s fault.  Also, any amount of breast milk a baby receives is a tremendous health benefit, even if it is only for one day.


Breastfeeding Rates in the US

  1. Thanks for blogging, Barbara! I enjoyed reading the statistics on breastfeeding sustainability rates in MICHIGAN. I think it’s a cultural/work thing. I think about having a 2nd child and trying to pump at work…= stressful! But I’m so happy and pleased that I did do it.
    Samuel is doing well- I feel like my milk supply is decreasing but he is almost 1 year old and 25-26 lbs!

  2. What surprises me is the amount of moms who don’t even try. Do they not know all the benefits?? The health and money benefits aside, I felt like it was my own special time to bond with my baby, no one could take that time away and it was so precious. Still is! 🙂

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