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Improve good nutrition among children and youth and 2 more... less...


Improve healthy development of infants and young children

Increase protective behaviors impacting children

% of children from birth to age 1 who received any breastmilk at age 12 months

Current Value




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Story Behind the Curve

Updated: February 2024

Author: Family, Infant, and Child Nutrition Program, Vermont Department of Health

This indicator, or population measure, is part of our Healthy Vermonters 2030 data set. Read more about how this data helps us understand and improve the well-being of people in Vermont on the Healthy Vermonters 2030 webpage.

Because this data is meant to show how the health of our state changes during the decade from 2020-2030, some indicators may have very few data points for now. Keep checking back to see the progress our public health system and partners are making.

By 2030 we want to see the percent of infants receiving human milk at age 12 months increase to 60%.

Breastfeeding rates generally increase each year and Vermont rates are higher than the national average. Many parents say they would like to continue breastfeeding up to one year, but there are barriers that may cause someone to stop breastfeeding sooner.

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Why Is This Important?

Breastfeeding or chestfeeding provides many health benefits for lactating parents and their babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months and continue breastfeeding along with other foods until they are 2 years old or even older. Studies have found that parents and babies who breastfeed for a longer time have better protection from certain chronic and acute illnesses.

In particular, babies who are breastfed have lower chances of getting asthma, being overweight, having type 1 diabetes, having severe lung diseases, frequent ear infections, stomach infections, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and a serious intestinal condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in premature babies. For parents who breastfeed, there are lower chances of getting breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that six out of ten adults in the United States have a chronic disease like cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. Continuing to breastfeed for longer periods can hopefully reduce these high numbers. That is why t's important to keep recommending breastfeeding for longer periods.

The Vermont Department of Health and its partners seek to provide information based on evidence about the health benefits of long-term breastfeeding. We want to support Vermont families in achieving their breastfeeding goals. Important partners include the Vermont Child Health Improvement Program, healthcare groups, community coalitions and organizations like Let’s Grow Kids and Building Bright Futures, home visiting professionals, Vermont Medicaid and private payors, early childcare providers, and local health offices providing WIC services (a national supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants, and Children—including all parents and caregivers).

Equity and Impact

Roughly half of all newborn infants nationwide participate in the WIC supplemental nutrition program. WIC (Women, Infants, Children) is for people with lower incomes who can use assistance to make sure they and their young children can afford and use healthy and nutritious food. WIC provides food benefits, education, and breastfeeding/chestfeeding support for pregnant people, parents, and caregivers of children under age 5.

Studies show that WIC participants have lower breastfeeding rates than parents who don’t participate in the program. Knowing that parents with lower incomes show a lower rate of breastfeeding can help us understand how to adjust our programs. It is important to make sure people can get the lactation support they need, especially in the early weeks after giving birth. 

How We Can Improve

Education an important part of helping more people start and continue breastfeeding for the recommended amount of time. It helps to provide education even before a child is born, as well as continuing support after birth.

Educating and encouraging employers to become a family-friendly workplace is also important. This helps to ensure that lactating parents have a safe and private space to provide milk for their infants while at work. This is very important to support continued breastfeeding in the months after birth, up to at least 12 months.

Helping early childcare centers to be family-friendly places that support breastfeeding is also a way to help parents breastfeed for longer.

Notes on Methodology

This data comes from the National Immunization Surveys done by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The National Immunization Survey-Child (NIS-Child) asks about breastfeeding practices across the United States. You can see more data about breastfeeding, nutrition, weight, and physical activity across the country on the Data, Trends, and Maps page.

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