US Breastfeeding Map Shows We Have a Long Way to Go

breastfeeding mapIt seems you’d be hard pressed to find anyone in the United States who hadn't heard that “breast is best.” (Except, apparently, residents of Mississippi.) But when mapping out breastfeeding rates at 12 months of age, none of the 50 states are doing that well.

Before I (rightfully) blame a lack of national paid maternity leave and all the other family-unfriendly policies in our country, let’s take a look at the map to see which states are giving breastfeeding past a year the old college try.


CBS News gathered the statistics used here from the CDC, so you can see how many women are still nursing as their little ones hit the 1-year mark. You may be surprised where your state lands on the grid.

Vermont comes in at number one with a 39.7 percent rate of breastfeeding moms at 12 months. That's not too shabby, even though it's not even half of the babies in the land of Ben and Jerry's getting mom's milk. Besides Vermont, the states with the highest percentages of breastfeeding at 12 months were: Oregon (39.6 percent), Utah (35.4 percent), Montana (34.8 percent), and Washington (33.4 percent).

The lowest breastfeeding rates came from West Virginia (12.5 percent), Oklahoma (12.2 percent), South Carolina (12 percent), Louisiana (9.8 percent), and Mississippi (8 percent).

The map is broken down like this by percentage of breastfeeders at 12 months:

  • Red: 33.40 - 39.70 percent.
  • Orange: 26.60 - 33.40 percent
  • Yellow: 10.80 - 26.60 percent
  • Light green: 13.10 - 20.80 percent
  • Bright green: 8 - 13.10 percent

Of course Oregon coming in at the number two spot isn't surprising. Don't they do everything better in Portland? But the Southern states really need to work on it, as most of the bottom 10 are located south of the Mason-Dixon line.

But the biggest thing this map of the U.S. shows is that every state needs to do a much better job at supporting breastfeeding moms past those early months. I wonder how these rates would look if we actually had paid maternity leave in this country? Or even non-paid, for more than a few measly months? So is it surprising that those states that are also known for high levels of poverty also have low breastfeeding rates? Those ladies have to get back to work!

Something's gotta give, or we can look forward to more studies showing that less than half of all American moms breastfeed at 12 months.

How did your state do?


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