While overall breastfeeding rates are on the rise—79 percent of American women reported that they breastfed their newborn at some point during 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, this number drops off significantly as the child grows older. After six months, 49.4 percent of women continued to breastfeed, but after 12 months it was down to 26.7 percent.
Vermont, Alaska and Utah had some of the highest rates of breastfeeding at 12 months (between 40 and 45 percent participation) while Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana had some of the lowest rates (between 10 and 12 percent participation), though the study does not suggest a cause or explanation for this.
This data was compiled as part of the CDC's annual Breastfeeding Report Card and is part of the breastfeeding goals explained in the Healthy People 2020 campaign that aims to have 81.9 percent of women breastfeeding by 2020 and 34.1 percent of women continuing to breastfeed through 12 months.
Breastfeeding has been shown to have many benefits for both baby and mom, like reducing the chance of your little one developing allergies and eczema, lowering the chance of SIDS and protecting against diseases like type 1 diabetes and spinal meningitis; meanwhile, it can help you lose pregnancy weight, decreases your chances of getting ovarian and breast cancer.
Having trouble breastfeeding? Read about the four most common breastfeeding discomforts and how to solve them. And also, take our quiz to find out your breastfeeding IQ.
Photo of baby nursing courtesy of Shutterstock.