State has plan to promote breastfeeding

Michigan now has a plan to get more mothers to breastfeed their babies.

While the state has surpassed a federal goal for the percentage of infants who have been breastfed, Michigan needs to continue improving breastfeeding rates for specific demographic groups.

Those are among the findings in the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ first state Breastfeeding Plan.

“Increasing rates of breastfeeding initiation and duration are necessary steps in reducing infant mortality and cutting the rising costs of health care,” said Dr. Eden Wells, MDHHS chief medical executive. “Our first breastfeeding State Plan sets goals for the state to meet to keep Michigan babies healthier.”

In Michigan, 84.1 percent of mothers reported breastfeeding their infant at least once. That exceeds the Healthy People 2020 goal of 81.9 percent. Healthy People 2020 is a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services project that provides national objectives for improving the health of all Americans.

There are important disparities in Michigan in initiation and duration of breastfeeding by black and teen mothers that the state must address. For example, 86.3 percent of white, non-Hispanic mothers in Michigan initiate breastfeeding, compared with 77.3 percent of black non-Hispanic mothers.

Among women age 30 or older, 65 percent breastfeed their infants to 3 months old, compared with only 26 percent of teen mothers.

The state Breastfeeding Plan sets the common agenda necessary for a collaborative approach among state, local and tribal government; health care professionals and organizations; employers; child care providers and educational institutions; community organizations; and, most importantly, individuals and families.

Breastfeeding goals for Michigan are to eliminate disparities, advance breastfeeding rights, build community support, change organizational practice and strengthen individual skills.

Anyone who would like to discuss how they or their organization can contribute to meeting the state breastfeeding goals can contact Marji Cyrul, MDHHS state breastfeeding coordinator, at

Go to to view Michigan’s Breastfeeding Plan.