Most parents-to-be have heard the phrase “breast is best,”  and there are lots of healthy and cool things found in breast milk. But here are a few statistics that can really help bring the point home.

1. Babies who are not breastfed are at a 100 percent increased risk for developing ear infections, a 257 percent increased risk for being hospitalized for a respiratory infection in their first year of life, and a 56 percent increased risk of dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

2. Breastfeeding cuts a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer by 21 percent.

3. According to a recent cost analysis, suboptimal breastfeeding costs the United States $17 billion every year because of the increased cost of health issues in mothers (such as increased rates of breast cancer, heart attacks, and diabetes).

4. Additionally, suboptimal breastfeeding costs our country another $14 billion annually in costs from pediatric diseases that could have been prevented with adequate breastfeeding.

5. In the United States, 76 percent of women who have given birth have breastfed, but only 25 percent are still breastfeeding at 12 months (which all leading health organizations recommend).

6. Idaho has the highest breastfeeding initiation rates (90 percent of moms!), while Mississippi has the lowest (47 percent).

7. Companies that provide support for breastfeeding moms (such as in the form of pumping breaks and a space set aside for pumping) have a 94 percent employee retention rate — while the national average overall is only 59 percent!

8. The average cost of formula for a baby for one year is approximately $1,700.

9. Only about 30 percent of moms sense a milk let-down, so if you don’t feel anything, you needn’t worry — you are in good company!

10. The average woman has nine pores on each nipple where milk flows from, but that number can vary.


  • Non-breastfed babies are at higher risk of developing ear infections and dying from SIDS.
  • On average, formula costs a family $1,700 annually.
  • Health organizations recommend breastfeeding until 12 months of age, which only 25 percent of breastfeeding mothers do.

Last reviewed by Jennifer Lincoln, MD. Review Date: March 2020


  1. J. Riordan and K. Wambach. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation, 4th edition.
  2. MC Bartick et al. Cost analysis of maternal disease associated with suboptimal breastfeeding. Obstet Gynecol 2013 Jul; 122(1).
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Breastfeeding report card—United States, 2012.
  4. The Simple Dollar. How much money does breastfeeding really save?
  5. Medela. Breastfeeding Facts.


  1. Great article for a FTM! Thanks!

  2. So glad I stuck with it when I wanted to give up!! It’s the very best and our baby has stayed so healthy!

  3. Good for mommy and baby!!


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