• preterm infant feeding decisions;
  • racial differences;
  • breastfeeding;
  • formula feeding


Objective: To examine the factors involved in mothers' decisions to provide breast milk for their premature infants and to determine if these factors differ between Black and White mothers.

Design: Secondary analysis of data from 2 primary studies at 2 time points within 2 days of hospital admission (T1) and just before discharge (T2).

Setting: Urban level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the eastern United States.

Participants: Convenience sample of 80 mothers, 34 White and 46 Black, who delivered a singleton infant less than 30 weeks' gestation.

Outcome Measures: Mother-focused and infant-focused factors involved in the decision to breastfeed or formula feed as measured by the Preterm Infant Feeding Survey.

Results: Infant-focused scores ranked higher than mother-focused scores at T1. Mother-focused scores ranked higher than infant-focused scores at T2. Between T1 and T2, the increase in mother-focused scores and the decrease in infant-focused scores were significant. There were no significant differences between the Black and White mothers' scores at either time point.

Conclusion: Mothers' focus on factors that impact their feeding decisions change over time from their infant to themselves. Additionally, no differences were noted between the Black and White mothers.