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Child Health USA 2013 An illustrated collection of current and historical data, published annually.

Breastfeeding

Narrative

Breastfeeding has been shown to promote the health and development of infants, as well as their immunity to disease. It also confers a number of maternal benefits, such as a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers and other chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease.1,2Among infants born in 2009, 76.9 percent were reported to have ever been breastfed, representing a significant increase over the 70.9 percent of infants ever breastfed in 2000.3 The American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding recommends exclusive breastfeeding—with no supplemental food or liquids—through the first 6 months of life, and continued supplemental breastfeeding through at least the first year.4 Studies have indicated that if 90 percent of US newborns breastfed exclusively for their first 6 months, direct medical costs could be reduced by $2.2 billion annually.5 Breastfeeding practices vary considerably by maternal race/ethnicity, education, age, and income. With respect to race and ethnicity, the proportion of infants to have ever been breastfed was higher among Asian, Hispanic, and non-Hispanic White infants (84.2, 82.6, and 78.4 percent, respectively) as compared to non-Hispanic Black infants (58.8 percent). The proportion of infants to breastfeed was highest among those born to mothers with at least a college education (89.0 percent) as compared to mothers of all other educational levels. Children born to mothers aged 30 years or older were the most likely to have been breastfed (81.7 percent), while children born to mothers aged less than 20 years were the least likely to (55.4 percent; data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site).

Overall, less than half (47.2 percent) of infants born in 2009 were fed breastmilk for the first six months of life and 16.3 percent were exclusively breastfed. The proportion of infants to exclusively breastfeed was highest among those born to mothers with at least a college education (21.3 percent) as compared to mothers all other educational levels. Common barriers to exclusive breastfeeding include maternal employment, pain related to breastfeeding, and unsupportive hospital policies.6 The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires most health insurance plans to provide breastfeeding support, counseling, and equipment to pregnant and nursing women.7

1 Ip S, Chung M, Raman G, Chew P, Magula N, DeVine D, et al. Breastfeeding and maternal and infant health outcomes in developed countries. Evid Rep Technol Assess (Full Rep). 2007(153):1-186.

2 Schwarz EB, Ray RM, Steube AM, et al. Duration of lactation and risk factors for maternal cardiovascular disease. Obstet Gynecol 2009;113(5):974-82.

3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Breastfeeding Among U.S. Children Born 2000-2008, CDC National Immunization Survey. August 2012. Accessed: 07/20/13.

4 Gartner LM, Morton J, Lawrence RA, Naylor AJ, O’Hare D, Schanler RJ, et al. Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics. 2005;115(2):496-506.

5 Bartick M. Reinhold A. The burden of suboptimal breastfeeding in the United States: a pediatric cost analysis. Pediatrics. 2010; 125(5). e1048-1056.

6 Office of the Surgeon General; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Office on Women’s Health. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding. Rockville (MD): Office of the Surgeon General; 2011. Barriers to Breastfeeding in the United States. Accessed: 07/21/2013.

7 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. What are my breastfeeding benefits? Accessed: 07/22/13.

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Graphs

This image is described in the Data section.

Infants Who Are Breastfed, by Race graph

This image is described in the Data section.

Infants Who Are Breastfed, by Maternal Education graph

Data

Infants* Who Are Breastfed by Race/Ethnicity and Duration, 2009
Race/Ethnicity Percent of Infants Ever Breastfed** Percent of Infants Any at 6 Months Percent of Infants Exclusively at 6 Months
*Includes only infants born in 2009; data are preliminary.
**Reported that child was ever breastfed or fed human breastmilk.
†Exclusive breastfeeding is defined as only human breastmilk—no solids, water, or other liquids.
Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention. National Immunization Survey. Unpublished data.
Non-Hispanic White 78.4 50.4 17.4
Non-Hispanic Black 58.8 32.0 10.0
Hispanic 82.6 47.9 17.0
Asian (Includes Hispanics) 84.2 59.0 18.2
American Indian/Alaska Native (Includes Hispanics) 61.6 33.0 17.2
Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander (Includes Hispanics) 71.5 33.1 8.0
Total 76.9 47.2 16.3
Infants* Who Are Breastfed by Maternal Education and Duration, 2009
Maternal Education Percent of Infants Ever Breastfed** Percent of Infants Any at 6 Months Percent of Infants Exclusively at 6 Months
*Includes only infants born in 2009; data are preliminary.
**Reported that child was ever breastfed or fed human breastmilk.
†Exclusive breastfeeding is defined as only human breastmilk—no solids, water, or other liquids.
Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention. National Immunization Survey. Unpublished data.
Less Than High School 70.5 38.7 10.7
High School 67.1 34.8 14.4
Some College 76.5 45.4 16.2
College 89.0 63.9 21.3
Total 76.9 47.2 16.3