• African American mothers;
  • Breast-feeding;
  • Lactation;
  • NICU;
  • VLBW infant

Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of an evidence-based breastfeeding program (Rush Mothers’ Milk Club) for mothers and their very-low-birth-weight (VLBW) infants.

Design and Setting: Retrospective analysis of hospital records for 207 eligible VLBW infants cared for in a 52-bed urban neonatal intensive-care unit for a 24-month period in 1997–1998.

Patients/Participants: Entire medical records were reviewed for 207 VLBW infants whose mothers (44.9% African American, 35.7% White, 17.9% Latina) were eligible to provide own mothers’ milk (OMM).

Interventions: Standardized evidence-based interventions through the Rush Mothers’ Milk Club program.

Main Outcome Measures: Lactation initiation rate; mean dose of OMM at 15, 30, and 60 days postbirth; mean percent of fed-hospital days equal to exclusive and some OMM feedings.

Results: Lactation initiation rate was 72.9%. Mean dose of OMM over the first 15, 30, and 60 days postbirth was 81.7%, 80.1%, and 66.1%, respectively, of total volume fed. Exclusive and some OMM was received for a mean of 57.2% and 72.5%, respectively, of fed-hospital days. The outcomes for low-income African American women are the highest reported in the literature.

Conclusion: The Rush Mothers’ Milk Club effectively achieved lactation outcomes that approach the national health objective, although the mothers had significant risk factors for initiating and sustaining lactation. The findings have important implications for clinicians, researchers, administrators, and policy makers.