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Pediatrics. 2003 May;111(5 Pt 2):1198-201.

Prevalence of breastfeeding in the United States: the 2001 National Immunization Survey.

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Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity, the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30341-3717, USA.



To address key gaps in the annual monitoring of breastfeeding prevalence in the United States, 3 breastfeeding questions concerning the initiation, duration, and exclusivity of breastfeeding were added to the rotating modules of the National Immunization Survey (NIS) beginning in the third quarter of 2001. The present study examines the current prevalence of breastfeeding in the United States using NIS data from this initial quarter.


The NIS is a random-digit-dialing survey of households with children aged 19 to 35 months, followed by a mail survey of the eligible children's vaccination providers to validate the child's vaccination information. In the third quarter of 2001, a randomly selected subset of households interviewed in the NIS (N = 896) were asked questions about breastfeeding.


Almost two thirds (65.1%) of children had ever been breastfed. At 6 and 12 months, 27.0% and 12.3%, respectively, were receiving some breast milk. Non-Hispanic blacks had the lowest rates of breastfeeding initiation and continuation. Exclusive breastfeeding rates were low in the United States with only 7.9% at 6 months.


Although breastfeeding initiation is near the national goal of 75%, breastfeeding continuation lags behind the national goals of 50% and 25% at 6 and 12 months, respectively. Strenuous public health efforts are needed to improve breastfeeding practices among blacks.

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