Initiation and Duration of Breast Feeding

The Reduction of Infant Mortality in Illinois

The Family Case Management Program and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

WIC Participants' Initiation of Breastfeeding
FY 03 - FY 08

Chart 4: WIC Participants' Initiation of Breastfeeding

Description of Chart 4: WIC Participants' Initiation of Breastfeeding

Initiation %
Dec-02 53.27%
Mar-03 51.63%
Jun-03 53.61%
Sep-03 58.23%
Dec-03 57.97%
Mar-04 58.93%
Jun-04 60.47%
Sep-04 61.38%
Dec-04 61.10%
Mar-05 62.16%
Jun-05 63.03%
Sep-05 63.20%
Dec-05 62.52%
Mar-06 63.82%
Jun-06 64.23%
Sep-06 64.60%
Dec-06 64.60%
Mar-07 63.81%
Jun-07 64.60%
Sep-07 65.28%
Dec-07 63.69%
Mar-08 65.27%
Jun-08 66.15%

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.

The rate of breastfeeding at hospital discharge has increased among WIC participants from 53 percent in 2002 to 65.9 percent for Fiscal Year 2008. Since the early 1990s, the rate of breastfeeding among WIC?eligible women has tripled from 26 percent in 1992 to 65.9 percent.

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 local 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.

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 1,300 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.