The Country data page has a table of breastfeeding rates in the countries surveyed. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months of life, followed by breast milk and complementary foods (solid or semi-solid foods). Breastfeeding rankings are included in Table 2 of the UNICEF publication, The State of the World’s Children. Data on this page is from the 2008 edition. Statistical data is available on the site in spreadsheet format, which could be used to extract a Top 10 list or rankings for all the countries.
Top 5 countries for breastfeeding
|Country|| % Exclusive
first 4 months
|Country|| % Exclusive
first 6 months
|Kiribati *||80.0||Kiribati *||80.0|
Note: * The figures for Kiribati in the breastfeeding chart come from UNICEF’s “Pacific Island Country Profile” (2000) and are calculated on a different basis.
Rwanda is top of the league for breastfeeding
It is a common practice for mothers in Rwanda to carry their babies in slings attached to their bodies (link: article with photo). Some of them practice Kangaroo Care, which involves skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby. At 20-23 months, 77% of Rwandan mothers still breastfed their infants in combination with other foods (the rate was even higher in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso and Nepal).
In the national election of 2008 Rwanda became the first country in the world with more than 50% women in parliament (source).
According to the CIA World Factbook, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Rwanda in 2007 was estimated at 2.8% among adults (source). HIV-positive mothers are counselled to adopt alternatives to breast-feeding by health workers.
Breastfeeding rates in other regions
European breastfeeding statistics:
At present, the UNICEF Global Database on Breastfeeding contains no data for industrialized countries and the data for Latin America and the Caribbean is incomplete. However, both the World Health Organization and the European Commission have surveyed a selection of countries in Europe.
The World Health Organization’s Health For All Database (HFA-DB)
recorded a high prevalence of breastfeeding in former Soviet countries — in some cases 80-90% at 6 months, although the data was not restricted to exclusive breastfeeding. From a smaller sample of European nations, Sweden had the highest exclusive breastfeeding rate: slightly above 75% at 3 months and around 37% at 6 months. The data was collected between 1989-1998.
United Kingdom breastfeeding statistics:
United States breastfeeding statistics: