Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families


While Improving, Hospitals Still Don’t Give Moms Enough Support For Breastfeeding; Racial Disparities Persist

While there has certainly been some improvement over the last several years, many hospitals continue to provide inadequate breastfeeding supports for new moms.  In some cases, this inadequate support also includes actions that undermine the breastfeeding intentions of the new moms.  Progress is good, but there's way more work to be done on this front.

From yesterday's NPR report (including links)...

Most hospitals around the country aren't doing a good job of helping new moms who want to breast-feed, researchers report Tuesday in the journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Several common practices at the institutions may actually prevent moms from sticking with breast-feeding for six months — the duration thought to be most healthful for babies.

Epidemiologists at the CDC surveyed more than 80 percent of the birthing centers across the country about the support they give new moms trying to breast-feed. About half of those surveyed said they implement five of the 10 practices recommended by the World Health Organization. By comparison, only a third of hospitals were hitting that mark in 2007.

"We've seen significant progress in recent years," Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters at a press conference. "But there's still more to be done ... Hospitals really need to support women before, during and after their hospital stay."

Read the full piece at NPR. (October 6, 2015)

This relative progress notwithstanding, there remain significant differences in rates of breastfeeding by race.

According to a 2013 report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

More Women Are Breastfeeding and for Longer Periods

  • From 2000–2008, the percentage of women who initiated breastfeeding went up from 47.4% to 58.9% for blacks, and 71.8% to 75.2% for whites. Initiation rates for Hispanics went from 77.6% to 80.0%, although this was not a significant increase.
  • Infants that were breastfed at 6 and 12 months increased greatly among all three racial/ethnic groups.
  • While 74.6% of infants born in 2008 began breastfeeding, only 23.4% met the recommended breastfeeding duration of 12 months. This indicates women may need more support to continue breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding Among Black Women

  • The gap between black and white breastfeeding initiation rates narrowed from 24 percentage points in 2000 to 16 percentage points in 2008. The 6-month duration gap also narrowed from 21 percentage points to 17 percentage points during that same time.
  • Black infants consistently had the lowest rates of breastfeeding initiation and duration across all study years. Black mothers may need more, targeted support to start and continue breastfeeding.