Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Increase in breastfeeding

The CDC's 2013 Breastfeeding Report Card marks continued progress over the last ten years in protecting, promoting, and supporting breastfeeding in the United States. In recent decades, mothers, their families, and health professionals have realized the importance of breastfeeding while acknowledging that each mother's decision about how she feeds her baby is a personal one.1 Every mother deserves information, guidance, and support in making this decision.

In addition to the well-known benefits breastfeeding brings to infants, there are also benefits for breastfeeding mothers. Breastfeeding moms are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, breast and ovarian cancer, and postpartum depression.2 And the longer moms breastfeed, the more the health benefits stack up.

In 1984, Surgeon General C. Everett Koop convened the first Surgeon General's Workshop on Breastfeeding. At that time, about 60% of mothers reported breastfeeding.3 Today, 77% of mothers initiate breastfeeding after birth and almost half (49%) are still breastfeeding six months after birth.4

In 1990, the United States signed onto a worldwide declaration to support breastfeeding, and in 1999, the Surgeon General requested a formal policy on breastfeeding. As a result, HHS released the HHS Blueprint for Action on Breastfeeding in 2000 under the leadership of OWH. This document declared breastfeeding to be a key public health issue in the United States and provided the first comprehensive breastfeeding framework for the nation. This was followed in 2011 by the Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, which outlines specific steps everyone can take to participate in a society-wide effort to support breastfeeding. The 2010 Affordable Care Act requires most insurance companies to provide, with no copay or deductible, breastfeeding support, counseling, and supplies.

Today more women are breastfeeding and for longer. Although differences still exist in breastfeeding rates between racial and ethnic groups, the gaps are getting smaller.5


  1. OSG, The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, 2011
  2. OWH, Why breastfeeding is important
  3. OSG, The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, 2011
  4. CDC, Breastfeeding Report Card, United States/2013
  5. CDC, Breastfeeding, Progress in Increasing Breastfeeding and Reducing Racial/Ethnic Differences – United States, 2000 – 2008 Births