Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 82, Issue 2, pp 198–206

Increasing breastfeeding rates in New York City, 1980–2000


  • Melanie Besculides
    • Office of Family HealthNew York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
  • Karine Grigoryan
    • Office of Family HealthNew York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
    • Office of Family HealthNew York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

DOI: 10.1093/jurban/jti044

Cite this article as:
Besculides, M., Grigoryan, K. & Laraque, F. J Urban Health (2005) 82: 198. doi:10.1093/jurban/jti044


Our objective was to determine temporal patterns of breastfeeding among women delivering infants in New York City (NYC) and compare national breastfeeding trends. All hospitals in NYC with obstetric units were contacted in May and June 2000 to provide information on the method of infant feeding during the mother’s admission for delivery. Feeding was categorized as “exclusive breastfeeding,” “breast and formula,” or “exclusive formula.” The first two categories were further grouped into “any breastfeeding” in the analysis. Hospitals were classified as “public” and “private,” and patients were classified by insurance type as “service” and “private.” Data between public and private hospitals and service and private patients were compared. Breastfeeding trends over time were compared by using previous iterations of the same survey. Of 16,932 newborns, representing approximately 80.0% of all reported live births in the city during the study period, 5,305 (31.3%) were exclusively breastfed, 6,189 (36.6%) were fed a combination of breast milk and formula, and the remaining 5,438 (32.1%) were exclusively formula-fed. Infants born in private hospitals were 1.6 times more likely to be exclusively breastfed compared with infants discharged from public hospitals (33% vs. 21%, respectively). Similarly, private patients were more likely than service patients to exclusively breastfeed their infants (39.6% vs. 22.9%, respectively) and to use a combination of breast and formula (i.e., any breastfeeding) (73.6% vs. 62.0%, respectively). From 1980 to 2000, the proportion of exclusive breastfeeding increased from 25.0% to 31.0%, the percentage of combined feeding increased from 8.0% to 37.0%, and the percentage of any breastfeeding increased from 33.0% to 68.0%. NYC has more than doubled the rate of breastfeeding since 1980. However, there is much progress to be made, and continued efforts are vital to maintain current gains in breastfeeding, improve the rates further, and prolong the duration of breastfeeding.


BreastfeedingBreastfeeding initiationBreastfeeding trendsImproving breastfeeding

Copyright information

© Oxford University Press on behalf of the New York Academy of Medicine 2005