The graph displays the proportion of women who participated in the WIC program during pregnancy and began to breastfeed their infants right after giving birth.

WIC Participants' Initiation of Breastfeeding, 2002-2007, full description in the table below.

Tabular version of Chart "WIC Participants' Initiation of Breastfeeding, 2002-2007" by Statewide Percent

Quarter ending Breastfeeding
December 2002 53.27%
March 2003 51.63%
June 2003 53.61%
September 2003 58.23%
December 2003 57.97%
March 2004 58.93%
June 2004 60.47%
September 2004 61.38%
December 2004 61.10%
March 2005 62.16%
June 2005 63.03%
September 2005 63.20%
December 2005 62.52%
March 2006 63.82%
June 2006 64.23%
September 2006 64.60%
December 2006 64.60%
March 2007 63.81%
June 2007 64.60%

The rate of breastfeeding at hospital discharge has increased among WIC participants from 53 percent in 2002 to 65.1 percent for SFY 2007. The rate of breastfeeding among WIC?eligible women more than doubled between 1992 (26 percent) and 2002.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that infants should be breastfed for at least the first year of life and adds no limit for duration. In 35 agencies, breastfeeding peer counselors are part of the WIC team, promoting breastfeeding, educating women on the "how-to's" of breastfeeding and supporting breastfeeding mothers when they deliver and begin breastfeeding. Usually WIC participants' peer counselors are women from the community who have successfully breastfed their own infants. They receive specialized training to serve as peer counselors. Representing diverse cultural backgrounds, they offer encouragement, information, and support to other WIC mothers.

Data from the Peer Counselor Summary Report show that women who receive services from a breastfeeding peer counselor are more likely to initiate breastfeeding and continue breastfeeding past one month. With the Peer Counselor program as a part of WIC services, Illinois babies are healthier and have improved overall long term health benefits. Besides serving as a resource and role model for breastfeeding women, the Peer Counselor also provides an important link to other health services in the community.

The proportion of infants in WIC who were breastfed at birth has more than doubled in the last 10 years.

Additional activities of the WIC breastfeeding program include providing breastfeeding education and training for WIC, FCM and other MCH providers. In the past five years, over 1300 staff have received specialized breastfeeding training through workshops, conferences and seminars. Additional training is provided at biennial statewide conferences which bring together community partners and other breastfeeding advocates.

Each year WIC programs develop special breastfeeding promotions to coincide with World Breastfeeding Week and Illinois Breastfeeding Promotion Month. Activities are designed to meet the AAP recommendations to "promote breastfeeding as a cultural norm and encourage family and societal support for breastfeeding." Activities such as Breastfeeding Walks and Fairs, breastfeeding displays in local libraries and the "Mobile Nursery" at local and state fairs help the public "see" breastfeeding as the norm and promote better understanding of the role breastfeeding plays in the health of our citizens.

WIC administers a state breast pump distribution program through their local agencies. As active community partners and collaborators, WIC promotes breastfeeding and advocates for participants with local hospitals, schools and employers.

Through the Physicians' Breastfeeding Network of Illinois (PBNI) WIC maintains a collaboration with medical groups to promote continuing breastfeeding education for physicians and the need for increased breastfeeding education and training in medical schools.

The Cornerstone system collects data on breastfeeding practices for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Nutrition Surveillance Systems.