Breastfeeding Duration among Low Income Women

Authors

  • Renee A. Milligan RNC, PhD,

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    • Renee A. Milligan is an associate professor at Georgetown University School of Nursing. She is an active researcher in maternal-child health, studying issues related to breastfeeding in low income women and infant mortality. She teaches biostatistics to nurse-midwifery and other graduate students. As a women's health nurse practitioner, she instructs students in the development of women's health ambulatory care skills.

  • Linda C. Pugh RNC, PhD,

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    • Linda C. Pugh is an associate professor and Director of Professional Educational Programs at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. She is an active researcher in maternal-child health, studying issues related to breastfeeding in low income women and barriers to prenatal care in high-risk inner city women. She teaches nursing theory to graduate students and breastfeeding research and practice to undergraduate and graduate students. She is certified in in-patient obstetric nursing and provides consultation to labor and delivery nurses regarding practice issues.

  • Yvonne L. Bronner RD, LD, ScD,

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    • Yvonne L. Bronner is the director of the MPH/DrPH programs at Morgan State University. She is a nutritionist with more than 15 years of experience conducting community-based research to promote breastfeeding among African-American women. She is pleased to acknowledge the nationwide increased rates of breastfeeding initiation for all women and African-American women, in particular. The remaining challenge is to continue to increase initiation while focusing on increasing duration. Her current research efforts to increase breastfeeding duration among low income African-American women are in line with Health People 2010 Breastfeeding objectives as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics' position on breastfeeding.

  • Diane L. Spatz RNC, PhD,

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    • Diane L. Spatz is an assistant professor and course director for undergraduate maternity nursing education at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. She is an active researcher in maternal-child health, studying issues related to breastfeeding in low-birthweight babies and developing strategies for research-based breastfeeding support. She teaches maternity nursing and case studies in breastfeeding to undergraduate students. As a clinical nurse specialist, she serves as a role model for expert practice in high-risk breastfeeding women.

  • Linda P. Brown RN, PhD, FAAN

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    • Linda P. Brown is the Miriam L. Stirl Professor of Nutrition and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. She is an active researcher in maternal-child health and is leading a research team in examining the role of advanced practiced nurses in increasing duration of breastfeeding among low-birthweight babies. She is the Division Chair of Healthcare of Women and Childbearing Families for the School of Nursing and has many years of teaching experience.


Georgetown University School of Nursing, 3700 Reservoir Rd., P.O. Box 571107, Washington, D.C., 20057-1107.

ABSTRACT

Breastfeeding has been identified as a possible deterrent to the development of osteoporosis and breast cancer in women. In addition, infants who are breastfed exclusively for at least 4 months reportedly have fewer incidence of SIDS, ear infection, diarrhea, and allergies. Further, low income women who breastfeed may be empowered by the experience. Increasing the frequency and duration of breastfeeding is recognized as a national priority, particularly for low income, minority women. Yet, recent national data indicate that in 1997, only 16.5% of low income mothers breastfed for at least 6 months. Short breastfeeding duration in low income women may be due to problems unique to them; thus, consistent and comprehensive breastfeeding support should be provided by midwives, nurses, lactation consultants, and peer counselors who are skilled in culturally sensitive management of lactation within the context of limited financial and social resources. This article focuses on the benefits of breastfeeding, and factors that may influence its duration. It also explores culturally relevant strategies as well as suggested interventions to increase breastfeeding duration among low-income women.

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