Racial and socioeconomic disparities in breastfeeding--United States, 2004

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2006 Mar 31;55(12):335-9.


The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least the first year of life, and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child. Not breastfeeding is associated with increased health risks for children, including otitis media, respiratory tract infections, diarrhea, and necrotizing enterocolitis. In addition, breastfeeding duration is inversely associated with risk for childhood overweight. Breastfeeding also is associated with health benefits for mothers, including reduced risk for ovarian cancer and premenopausal breast cancer. Breastfeeding rates differ substantially by race, socioeconomic level, and other demographic factors. For example, among children born during 1982-1993, non-Hispanic black children were less likely than non-Hispanic white children to be breastfed at birth and at age 6 months, even when comparisons were among children in the same socioeconomic or other demographic subgroup. To obtain current estimates of racial and economic disparities in breastfeeding among U.S. children, CDC analyzed data from the 2004 National Immunization Survey (NIS). This report describes the results of that analysis, which indicated that 71.5% of non-Hispanic white children were ever breastfed compared with 50.1% of non-Hispanic black children. Among those ever breastfed, 53.9% of non-Hispanic white and 43.2% of non-Hispanic black children continued breastfeeding until at least age 6 months. Disparities between black and white children existed within most socioeconomic subgroups studied. Public health programs should continue to promote breastfeeding initiation and increase support of breastfeeding continuation, especially among subgroups with the lowest rates (i.e., black, poor, and young mothers; mothers with less than a high school education; and mothers residing in rural areas).

MeSH terms

  • African Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Breast Feeding / ethnology*
  • Breast Feeding / statistics & numerical data*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology