Women's Health USA 2007
Photographs of women's faces
Health Status > Maternal Health

Breastmilk benefits the health, growth, immunity, and development of infants. Mothers who breastfeed may have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers1 In 2005, 72.9 percent of infants were reported to have ever been breastfed. Non-Hispanic Black infants were the least likely to ever be breastfed (55.4 percent), while Asian/Pacific Islanders were the most likely (81.4 percent), followed by Hispanics (79.0 percent). Infants born to younger mothers, mothers with lower educational attainment, mothers with low family income, and mothers receiving WIC program benefits were also less likely to be breastfed.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed— without supplemental solids or liquids—for the first 6 months of life, based on evidence of reduced risk of upper respiratory and other common infections. However, only 13.9 percent of infants were exclusively breastfed at 6 months in 2005, and only 39.1 percent of infants were fed any breastmilk at 6 months. Younger mothers were less likely to breastfeed than mothers in older age categories. In 2005, 50.0 percent of infants with mothers under age 20 were ever breastfed, compared to 68.4 percent of infants born to mothers aged 20–29 years, and 77.7 percent of infants born to mothers aged 30 years and older. The percentage of infants who were breastfed at 6 and 12 months also increased with maternal age.

1 Ip S, Chung M, Raman G, Chew P, Magula N, DeVine D, Trikalinos T, Lau J. Breastfeeding and Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes in Developed Countries. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 153 (Prepared by Tufts-New England Medical Center Evidence-based Practice Center, under Contract No. 290-02-0022). AHRQ Publication No. 07-E0007. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. April 2007.


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Women's Health USA 2007 is not copyrighted. Readers are free to duplicate and use all or part of the information contained on this page. Suggested Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Women's Health USA 2007. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2007.