Cover: Why are teenagers in the United States less likely to breast-feed than older women?

Why are teenagers in the United States less likely to breast-feed than older women?

Published 1996

by Christine E. Peterson, Julie DaVanzo

Purchase Print Copy

Add to Cart Paperback20 pages Free

Teenage mothers are much less likely than older mothers to breastfeed their infants. The lower breastfeeding rate among teenagers aged 16-19, compared with women aged 20-29, is due almost entirely to the fact that teenage mothers tend to have characteristics associated with a lower likelihood of breastfeeding among all women, such as lower education level, lower income, and being unmarried. Even so, nearly 40 percent of the difference between teenage mothers aged 15 or less and mothers aged 20-29 remains unexplained by these factors and may be due to developmental aspects of adolescence, such as greater egocentricity and greater concern about body image.

Originally published in: Demography, Vol. 29, no. 3, August 1992, pp. 431-450.

This report is part of the RAND reprint series. The Reprint was a product of RAND from 1992 to 2011 that represented previously published journal articles, book chapters, and reports with the permission of the publisher. RAND reprints were formally reviewed in accordance with the publisher's editorial policy and compliant with RAND's rigorous quality assurance standards for quality and objectivity. For select current RAND journal articles, see External Publications.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.