Global Statistics About Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is beneficial to the nutritional health, well-being, and development of a newborn and young children as routinely promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO). A mother’s breast milk is the ideal food source that’s readily available which fulfills the nutritional needs for the development of the child. As recommended by WHO and UNICEF, a child should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months and continued until the child is two years old or beyond.

The La Leche League International (LLLI) acknowledges breastfeeding as “a foundation to creating a healthier and fairer world.” Regardless of the mother’s societal or financial status, she can provide her little one the optimal nutrition required for their development potential and wellness by providing breast milk.

Why does breastfeeding matter? The Global Breastfeeding Scorecard, released by UNICEF and WHO to track the global progress of breastfeeding policies and programs, lists the following:

  • The lives of 823,000 children could be saved per among children ages five years old and younger if they were optimally breastfed.

  • The child’s risk of acquiring noncommunicable diseases is reduced and a decrease in being overweight or obese later in life.

  • Nearly half of all diarrhea episodes and one-third of respiratory infections would be prevented with improved breastfeeding practices in low- and middle-income countries.

  • Breastfeeding also brings benefits to women, including prevention of breast and ovarian cancer and diabetes.

  • Longer breastfeeding durations are associated with higher scores on intelligence tests.

  • Countries lose more than $300 billion annually because of low rates of breastfeeding.

In 2017, the following were recorded by the Global Breastfeeding Collective (Collective):


  • 44% of newborns are put to the breast within the first hour after birth.

  • Overall rate of exclusive breastfeeding for infants under six months of age is 40%.

  • Only 23 countries have achieved at least 60% of infants less than six months being exclusively breastfed. The Americas only show 6% of the countries which have an above 60% rate that exclusively breastfeeds.

  • Countries that have data on breastfeeding moms show to have a continued breastfeeding rate of 80%.

  • In Africa, nearly 70% of countries have high rates of continued breastfeeding at one year

  • Continued breastfeeding at age two drops to 45%. Which means that most mothers stop breastfeeding when their baby reaches 2-years old.

WHO mentions that in a span of 2 decades the rate of exclusively breastfed babies haven’t improved. The Collective has set targets for 2030 to increase the rate of mothers who exclusively breastfeed and continued breastfeeding at one to two years old. Currently, only 23 countries out of 195 have met the Collective’s 2030 global target for exclusive breastfeeding at six months old.