Breastfeeding Rates Remain Low Among Minority Women

Katherine Jones, M.A. Research Associate, Department of Research The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Department of Psychology, American UniversityMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Katherine Jones, M.A.
Research Associate, Department of Research
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Department of Psychology, American University

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response:  It is well evidenced that breastfeeding is highly advantageous for the mother, child, and society. Benefits to breastfeeding may be significantly larger for minority women as they are disproportionately affected by numerous adverse health outcomes. The benefits of breastfeeding may help mitigate some of these negative health consequences, and thus, also bridge larger gaps in racial and ethnic health disparities. This article aimed to review the literature on racial and ethnic disparities in breastfeeding rates and practices, conduct a systematic review of breastfeeding interventions, address barriers to breastfeeding among minority women, and provide obstetrician-gynecologists (ob-gyns) with recommendations on how they can help improve rates among minority women.

Overall, racial and ethnic minority women continue to have lower breastfeeding rates than white women in the United States, with African American women having the lowest rates of breastfeeding initiation and continuation among to all women. Minority women report several unique barriers to breastfeeding, including lack of access to information that promotes and supports breastfeeding, lack of work and cultural acceptance and support, language and literacy barriers, acculturation, and historical, sociopolitical, and economic challenges. Results from the systematic review of breastfeeding interventions among minority women indicated that breastfeeding-specific clinic appointments, enhanced breastfeeding programs, group prenatal education, peer counseling, and hospital policy changes significantly improve breastfeeding initiation, duration, and exclusivity.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Major efforts are still needed to improve breastfeeding initiation and duration rates among minority women in the United States. Ob-gyns have a unique opportunity to promote and support healthy breastfeeding practices and can positively influence a mother’s intention and decision to breastfeeding. The Guidelines for Perinatal Care by the American Academy of Pediatrics and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that ob-gyns begin providing breastfeeding education during the first prenatal appointment and continue these discussions in subsequent visits. Minority women are more likely to have inconsistent prenatal care, thus making these early conversations even more crucial for these groups of women. It is equally important that ob-gyns address potential obstacles to breastfeeding and strategies to overcome them.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: It is important that we develop strategies to increase awareness among ob-gyns regarding the barriers to breastfeeding that racial and ethnic minority women may face as well as create ways in which ob-gyns can effectively encourage, support, and ultimately, improve rates of breastfeeding among minority women in the United States. Future research should also focus on developing culturally specific interventions to help eliminate obstacles to breastfeeding among racial and ethnic minority women.

Citation:

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Breastfeeding

Jones Katherine M., Power Michael L., Queenan John T., and Schulkin Jay.
Breastfeeding Medicine. May 2015, 10(4): 186-196. doi:10.1089/bfm.2014.0152.

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MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Katherine Jones, M.A., Research Associate Research Department, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, & Washington, DC 20024 (2015). Breastfeeding Rates Remain Low Among Minority Women MedicalResearch.com