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?


baby first year, breastfeeding, baby health


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

jagam... jagamama0710

Colorado isn't too shabby (compared to other states at least)! I'm also still nursing my 16 month old.

Although I'm not from here. I'm from Missouri...not doing as well. I haven't lived in MO in over 5 years though. 

ziff130 ziff130

South Carolina stinks..... I breastfed my second one until 13 mos though!! :) My first one was a preemie and I pumped his entire life but he didn't make it to 12 mos (only 5 mos) and my third one was adopted at 8 mos and had been using a bottle and formula her whole life so stimulating me to produce milk wasn't a realistic option for us since she was used to a bottle and already almost 8 mos.

kelli... kelli0585

Texas isn't doing so great.  Imagine the looks I get when fellow Texans find out that my 23 month old still breastfeeds! 

Though I would be lying if I said I wasn't ready for him to wean. 

Sherri DeLozier Carter

I did my part to help MO- I nursed until my son was 26 months old when he self-weaned.

trblm... trblmagnet


Utah looks good i breast fed my littlest one till she was15 months and now my daughter is nursing she plans till at least he is one

Beths... Bethsunshine

ziff130, I'm originally from SC ( I live in PA now) and when I went home to visit my family, when my kids were babies, I was shocked at the reactions I got from some people because I was breastfeeding. My cousin had her first ( and only ) baby when my youngest was almost a year old, and I wanted to buy her a Boppy pillow because I loved mine so much when I was nursing. I literally couldn't find one!! I went to Wal-mart, Target and K-mart and couldn't find one. She ended up not breastfeeding anyway. I have 2 more cousins who all had babies around the same time that I did, and none of them breastfed. I take that back, my one cousin pumped and gave her second baby breastmilk for a few months.

Rebecca Rudness

I'm with you, Kelli. I live in TX & am still nursing my 21 month old. The hospital where I delivered was pro breastfeeding, but they still pushed the supplemental feeding with formula, as it took a few days for my milk to come in due to IV fluids. Thankfully I live in Austin, so I don't get that many looks.

cdietsch cdietsch

I nursed my oldest until she was 28 months, when she weaned herself (I was five months pregnant, perhaps my milk changed.)  I wish this article had mentioned that the WHO recommends two+ years, not many people realize just how vital it is.  

Kathlyn Schofield

Vermont is only (point 1%) .1% higher than Oregon, with a population of 621,​270 compared to Or population of 3,790,060.  Oregon has over 3million more people living there, I think Oregon WINS... Even more reason I am glad to be moving there!  

OTHER USELESS FACTS.  Vermont has the smallest capitol (by population) only next to South Dakota which comes in second smallest!  Being SD also boasts the Poorest City in America and the BF rate is in the yellow... I'm thinking education has more to do with the rates with poverty coming in Second!


Heather Lewis

South Dakota is not be doing that well. When I took my 15 month old son to a new doctor and told the nurse I was still breastfeeding she said "breastfeeding isn't doing him any good." I was shocked to hear that come out of a pediatric nurse's mouth!

1-10 of 87 comments 12345 Last