BEAUFORT, S.C. (WBTW) — There is about a 30 percentage-point difference between the South Carolina county with the highest rate of breastfed infants and the one with the lowest rate, according to 2020 data from the state’s health agency.

Statewide, 78.3% of infants were breastfed that year, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Although 2021 data hasn’t publicly been released, health experts predict that more South Carolina mothers may be opting to breastfeed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2019, 71% of mothers chose to start breastfeeding while they were at Conway Medical Center. That rate has increased to 80%.

The hospital is also seeing more mothers plan to exclusively breastfeed their newborns, it previously told News13. In 2019, that rate was 18%. Now, it’s reached 39.8%.

Breastfeeding is considered the best source of nutrition for infants, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which states that breastmilk can lower the risk of asthma, sudden infant death syndrome, diabetes and stomach bugs.

Here are the 10 counties with the lowest rate of infants who were breastfed in 2020, according to DHEC:

37. Williamsburg – 61.5%

38 (tie). Barnwell, Lee – 61.1%

40. Darlington – 61%

41. Chesterfield – 60.6%

42. Bamberg – 57.9%

43. Union – 57.1%

44. Dillon – 48.3%

45. Allendale – 46.5%

46. Marlboro – 44%

Here are the 10 counties with the highest rate of infants who were breastfed in 2020, according to DHEC:

10. Greenville – 80.1%

9. Spartanburg – 80.5%

8. Lexington – 83.3%

7. Dorchester – 84.5%

6. Richland – 85.5%

5. Berkeley – 86.7%

4. York – 87.3%

3. Jasper – 89.6%

2. Charleston – 89.7%

  1. Beaufort – 91.1%