Hospitals Get an "F" in Breastfeeding

6.23.08: A new study ranks maternity care in the nation's hospitals


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has come out with a new report on maternity care in the nation's hospitals and birth centers. The results? Pretty dismal.

The study, "Breastfeeding-Related Maternity Care Practices among Hospitals and Birth Centers '– United States, 2007," analyzed the self-reported breastfeeding practices and policies of nearly 2,700 birth facilities across the country. The practices were then scored on a scale of 0 to 100 points.

Nationally, the average facility score was 63 for key maternity practices in infant nutrition and care. That's right—63 out of 100—a big, fat F.

If you live in the south, the news is even worse. Seven southern states—Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia—had the lowest percentages (less than 30 percent) of children who were breastfed for 6 months, according to the 2006 National Immunization Survey.

Western and New England states generally had higher scores compared to other parts of the country. Vermont and New Hampshire tied for the highest overall maternity practice scores (81), followed by Maine (77) and Oregon (74). In fact, Oregon, Maine and Vermont report that more than 75 percent of children have been breastfed.

Wondering how your own city ranks in maternity care and breastfeeding success rates? Check out our annual report on the Best Cities in America to Have a Baby. And check out our Ultimate Guide to Breastfeeding for everything you need to know about breastfeeding your baby.

Dana Rousmaniere is's Managing Editor. Her hospital sent her home with a bag full of free formula samples, even though she was breastfeeding.