Breastfeeding Rates Vary Widely by State
National Average for Breastfeeding at Least 6 Months Is Less Than 15%
WebMD News Archive
Aug. 5, 2004 -- The number of new mothers who start
breastfeeding their infants and stick with it for six months or more varies
widely from state to state in the U.S., according to a new CDC report.
The study shows the national average for exclusive
breastfeeding for six months in 2003 was 14.2%, and only Oregon had an
exclusive-breastfeeding rate of more than 25% at six months.
It's the first time the CDC has released state-by-state data on
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be
breastfed exclusively -- with no baby formula -- for the first six months of
life. To see how your state fared on this recommendation, see the table
at 6 Months
District Of Columbia
1Exclusive breastfeeding is
defined in this study as only breastmilk and water - no solids or other
Source: 2003 National Immunization Survey, Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services
"With this new information, state health departments can
compare the breastfeeding rates in their states and communities with national
objectives," says Donna Stroup, PhD, acting director of the CDC's
Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, in a news release. "The
information will help agencies concentrate their efforts where they are most
needed and develop targeted programs to promote breastfeeding."
Breastfeeding by State
The information in the report was gathered from the CDC's 2003
National Immunization Survey which surveyed mothers in 50 states, the District
of Columbia, and selected geographic regions within the states.
According to the survey, only six states -- Hawaii, Idaho,
Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington -- met all of the following Healthy
People 2010 objectives for breastfeeding:
- 75% of new mothers initiate breastfeeding.
- 50% continued to breastfeed for at least six months.
- 25% continued to breastfeed for at least 12 months.
Fourteen states met the first objective of having at least 75%
of new mothers initiate breastfeeding. The top five states in this category
were Oregon (88%), Washington (88%), Utah (85.5%), Idaho (83.8%), and
Eight states met the second goal of having 25% or more of
mothers continuing to breastfeed for at least 12 months. The top states in this
category were Hawaii (31%), Vermont (30%), and Alaska (28.9%).
Researchers also found that lower-income mothers and
non-Hispanic black mothers had consistently lower rates of breastfeeding
compared with others.