Breastfeeding Rates Based on Socioeconomic Differences

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Variations in Breastfeeding Rates Based on Socioeconomic Difference Jessica M. Biedermann
Suny IT

Abstract
The purpose of this paper is to determine if breastfeeding initiation rates vary based upon a mothers socioeconomic background. Do breastfeeding rates vary between high and low income families? Is a woman’s decision to breastfeed her child based on her socioeconomic status? Studies suggest that the rates at which mothers breastfeed their infants vary based on differences in their socioeconomic backgrounds. Including but not limited to income, race and education level all play a vital roll in not only the mothers decision but how long after birth they continue to breastfeed. Research has found through random sample studies that health care providers should tailor their care towards the specific patient needs, including cultural subgroup, to identify potential risk factors for breastfeeding challenges and to promote breastfeeding success.

Variations in Breastfeeding Rates Based on Socioeconomic Differences “Breastfeeding offers infants significant benefits including decreases in the incidences and severity of a wide range of infectious diseases, such as bacterial meningitis, bacteremia, diarrhea, respiratory tract infections, necrotizing enterocolitis, otitis media, urinary tract infection, and late-onset sepsis in preterm infants” (Sterling). Additional evidence supports not only the physiological health benefits of breastfeeding but also the possible benefits for cognitive development. Breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed an infant, however, many childbearing women never breastfeed. In late 2001 the National Immunization Survey started including questions related to the duration and initiation of breastfeeding. Findings from this study identified significant differences among women related to breastfeeding practices, maternal age, and socioeconomic status ( Sterling). “For example, mothers of non-Hispanic black children were less likely to have ever breastfed their children (51.5%) than mothers of non-Hispanic white children (72.1%); 19.7% of mothers of non-Hispanic black children continued to breastfeed for 6 months compared to 36.6% of non-Hispanic white mothers. Data from several studies suggest that women of lower socioeconomic status are less likely to breastfeed their infants, both in the United States and elsewhere” (Sterling). Reasons for the association between breastfeeding and socioeconomic status are complex. Differing aspects of socioeconomic status may be associated with knowledge, attitudes, experiences, and beliefs leading a woman to a particular infant feeding choice. These are exceptionally important key points to address with mothers through out the prenatal process. Healthcare providers need to assess the mothers views on breastfeeding while stressing the benefits that both the mother and infant can have from it. Results from the random sample studies done are used to find areas where the rates of breastfeeding are the lowest and determine what can be done to increase the breastfeeding rates among those groups of mothers. For the purpose of this paper, focus was placed on two particular studies that seemed to prove the relevance of the discussion of breastfeed rates and the differentiation among socioeconomic groups. From the first, “Data for this study used logistic regression analysis to examine the influence of a range of socioeconomic factors on the chances of ever breastfeeding among a stratified random sample of 10,519 women delivering live births in California for 1999 through 2001. Measures of socioeconomic status included family income as a percentage of the federal poverty level, maternal education, paternal education, maternal occupation, and paternal occupation” (Heck, Braveman, Cubbin, Chávez, & Kiely, 2006). “Women are sampled from birth certificate data and are mailed the survey at 10–14 weeks postpartum; surveys...
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