Mothers and young children are healthy

% of infants breastfed exclusively for six months


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Story Behind the Curve

Last Updated: July 2015

Author: Division of Maternal and Child Health, Vermont Department of Health

The most recent data shows that 30% of Vermont infants born in 2011 were exclusively breastfed through 6 months of age. This is above the HP2020 goal of 25.5% and well above the national average of 18.8%. However, disparities based on socio-economic status remain, with women in lower socio-economic categories having, on average, lower rates of exclusive breastfeeding from early infancy.

Policy factors influencing the increase include

  • 2003 VT Act 117 – protection of a mother's right to breastfeeding public
  • 2004 – Health Department establishes Breastfeeding Friendly Employer designation
  • 2008 VT Act 144 - requirement for Vermont employers to support breastfeeding employees
  • 2010 PL-111-148 – federal law requiring employers to support breastfeeding employees
  • Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program established to provide mother to mother support for women on WIC who choose to breastfeed
  • 2012 – WIC program provides training to birthing hospital maternity care nurses to assist hospitals in meeting requirements for Baby Friendly Hospital designation
  • 2014 – Health Department and VCHIP develop breastfeeding Maintenance of Certification quality improvement project for pediatric and family practice providers
  • Recently child care regulations were revised to include guidance on support for breastfeeding mothers and infants

  • American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter
  • American Academy of Family Practice Vermont Chapter
  • Vermont Child Health Improvement Project
  • Vermont Lactation Consultants Association
  • LaLeche League
  • Home Visiting Programs
  • Medicaid and other insurers
What Works

The CDC Guide to Strategies to Support Breastfeeding Mothers and Babies outlines strategies in eight areas for promoting and supporting breastfeeding. These areas are:

  • Maternity Care Practices
  • Professional Education
  • Access to Professional Support
  • Peer Support Programs
  • Support for Breastfeeding in the Workplace
  • Support for Breastfeeding in Early Care and Education
  • Access to Breastfeeding Education and Information
  • Social Marketing

The WIC program and MCH partners continue to implement and support the strategies described in the CDC Guide, with a special focus on strategies that address disparities based on socio-economic status.

  • WIC and Title V continue to support peer counselors in 5 of the 12 districts.Peer counselors are primarily located in districts with lower breastfeeding rates.
  • Continuation of MOC for health care providers
  • Continued support of hospitals seeking baby friendly designation.
  • Outreach to businesses employing women of childbearing age to assist them in complying with Act 144

Similar to statewide efforts, local partners are using data to drive local strategy. For regional data on Maternal and Infant Health indicators, check out our Public Health Data Explorer.

Why Is This Important?

Review of evidence has shown that, on a population basis, exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding infants.Exclusive breastfeeding has many immediate benefits in infancy (including reduced infant mortality and fewer illnesses), as well as long term health benefits for both mother and child.A good synopsis of the impact of exclusive breastfeeding can be found in the AAP Policy Statement on Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk and in the 2011 ­Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding

This indicator is part of Healthy Vermonters 2020 (the State Health Assessment) that documents the health status of Vermonters at the start of the decade and the population health indicators and goals that will guide the work of public health through 2020. Click here for more information.

Notes on Methodology

Trend data should be interpreted with caution. Beginning with 2016 births, the National Immunization Survey switched its methodology; they have dropped landlines from their sampling frame and are now using only cell phone numbers. Prior to 2009, National Immunization Survey data was based on a landline phone survey. Beginning in 2009, the sampling frame was changed to include both landline and cell phone numbers.

Data is updated as it becomes available and timing may vary by data source. For more information about this indicator, click here.

Scorecard Result Container Indicator Measure Action Actual Value Target Value Tag S R I P PM A m/d/yy m/d/yyyy