is widely recognized to be the ideal form of nutrition for infants.
Breastfed infants are less susceptible to infectious diseases and
are less likely to suffer from diabetes, overweight and obesity,
lymphoma, leukemia, and Hodgkin’s disease, and asthma compared to
children who are not breastfed. In addition, rates of postneonatal
mortality (death between the first month and the end of the first
year of life) are lower among breastfed infants.1 Therefore, the
American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that, with few exceptions,
all infants be fed with breast milk exclusively for the first 6
months of life.
Overall, 38.8 percent of children were breastfed for
at least 6 months (although they may not have been exclusively breastfed).
Breastfeeding for this duration is noticeably more common among
children living in urban areas (40.5 percent). While breastfeeding
for at least 6 months is less common in rural areas, the rates are
similar between large rural and small rural areas (31.7 and 31.4
Overall, breastfeeding through at least 6 months becomes more common with increasing
family income. The highest breastfeeding rates are among children
living in urban areas with family incomes of 400 percent of the
Federal poverty level (FPL) or above (47.9 percent); conversely,
the lowest rates are among children living in large rural areas
with family incomes below 100 percent of FPL (23.1 percent).
Breastfeeding also varies considerably by location
within racial and ethnic groups. With few exceptions, within each
racial/ethnic group, breastfeeding is more common among children
in urban areas. Rates for Hispanic children, however, are reported
to be approximately the same (around 40 percent) across locations,
and rates among American Indian/Alaska Native children are highest
in small rural areas and lowest in large rural areas (42.0 and 25.5
percent, respectively). Overall, the highest reported breastfeeding
rates occur among other races and White children living in urban
areas (44.8 and 43.9 percent, respectively), and American Indian/Alaska
Native children living in small rural areas. The lowest rate occurs
among Black children living in small rural areas (8.6 percent).
1 American Academy of Pediatrics, Section
on Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics