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This year's stats
The CDC's annual report breaks down overall breastfeeding statistics across the nation as well as how each state ranks in terms of how many mothers are breastfeeding and for what amount of time. The report states that breastfeeding rates are continually rising across the country — approximately eight out of 10 newborns are being breastfed for at least some amount of time. In addition, there are now more International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) and Certified Lactation Counselors (CLCs) in the U.S.
The report states, "From 2006 through 2013, the number of IBCLCs increased from 2.1 to 3.5 per 1,000 live births. In 2013, there were 3.8 CLCs per 1,000 live births, compared to only 2.5 in 2011."
State by state
The state-by-state stats are broken down into and determined by five indicators: ever breastfed; breastfeeding at 6 months; breastfeeding at 12 months; exclusive breastfeeding at 3 months; and exclusive breastfeeding at 6 months.
The five states with the highest breastfeeding rates are California (92.8 percent), Oregon (91.9), Washington (91.8), Montana (91.2) and Vermont (90.0). Aside from Vermont, the Western states are certainly leading the pack.
Interestingly, the lowest rates for breastfeeding seem to be largely regional as well, with southeastern states falling to the bottom of the list. Louisiana (56.9 percent), Kentucky (61.3), Mississippi (61.5), Arkansas (67.1) and Alabama (67.3) have some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the country. Beyond the southeast, West Virginia (59.3 percent), Delaware (65.7) and Missouri (67.9) also fell to the low end.
As for the reason behind the very different breastfeeding rates between the western and southeastern states, Larry Grummer-Strawn, chief of the CDC’s nutrition branch, told The Washington Post
, "I don’t know that we fully know [why]. It’s a different culture… in the general population and among health professionals."
He added that in the southern states physicians do not emphasize the importance of breastfeeding, telling patients instead that it "doesn’t matter that much."