Breastfeeding is widely acknowledged as the ideal method of providing optimal infant nutrition. Breastmilk is the most complete food for babies and provides all of the nutrients needed for the first 6 months.

ACOG supports the AAP recommendation of breastfeeding for one year or more with exclusive breastfeeding for about the first 6 months. Artificial milk interferes with the newborn’s immune system and gut colonization.

Not breastfeeding is associated with a wide array of health risks to the infant including ear, respiratory and gastrointestinal infection, SIDS, allergic disease, celiac and inflammatory bowel disease, necrotizing enterocolitis, certain pediatric cancers, type 1 diabetes, and obesity.

Improved maternal outcomes for breastfeeding mothers have been recognized for a range of health conditions including type 2 diabetes mellitus, breast and ovarian cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and post-partum depression.

The 2018 Breastfeeding Report Card from the CDC shows that 83.2% of US infants are breastfed at least once after being born, but by six months, the percentage of infants breastfeeding decreases to 57.6%. Rates of exclusive breastfeeding, the method of infant feeding most likely to protect against infection and chronic disease, are less impressive. Seventeen percent of breastfed infants receive formula supplementation by the second day of life. At three months, exclusive breastfeeding rates fall to 46.9%, and at six months they fall to about 25%.