Promoting Breastfeeding in Child Care Through State Regulation

S. E. Benjamin Neelon, D. T. Duncan, T. Burgoine, M. Mayhew, A. Platt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Policies supporting breastfeeding vary by state, but little is known about the geographical aspects of this variation. This study describes state breastfeeding licensing and administrative regulations targeting child care settings, compares regulations with national standards, and examines the spatial patterning and clustering of these regulations throughout the United States (US). We compared regulations for child care centers (centers) and family child care homes (homes) with national standards for: (1) general breastfeeding support; (2) designated place for breastfeeding; (3) no solids before infants are four months of age; and (4) no formula for breastfed infants without parent permission. We scored state regulations as 0 = standard not addressed, 1 = standard partially addressed, and 2 = standard fully addressed. We considered each regulation individually, and also summed scores to provide an overall rating of regulations by state. We mapped regulations using geographic information systems technology, and explored overall and local spatial autocorrelation using global and local variants of Moran’s I. Five states had regulations for centers and two for homes that addressed all four standards. Mean regulation scores were 0.35, 0.20, 0.98, 0.74 for centers, and 0.17, 0.15, 0.79, 0.58 for homes. Local Moran’s I revealed that New York and Pennsylvania had substantially stronger regulations than their adjacent states, while Florida had weaker regulations than its neighbors. Overall, few states had regulations that met breastfeeding standards. We identified some patterns of spatial correlation, suggesting avenues for future research to better understand distributions of regulations across the US.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)745-754
Number of pages10
JournalMaternal and Child Health Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2015


  • Breastfeeding
  • Child care
  • Policy
  • Regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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