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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

BU: Improved Maternity Care Practices Decrease Racial Gaps in Breastfeeding in U.S.South

A new study, published in Pediatrics, led by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher, links successful implementation of Baby-Friendly™ practices in the southern U.S. with increases in breastfeeding rates and improved, evidence-based care. The changes were especially positive for African American women.

Between 2014 and 2017, 33 hospitals enrolled into the CHAMPS (Communities and Hospitals Advancing Maternity Practices) program out of Boston Medical Center’s Center for Health Equity, Education and Research, funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. All birthing hospitals in Greater New Orleans, and 18 in Mississippi, signed up. Breastfeeding initiation at CHAMPS hospitals rose from 66 percent to 75 percent, and, among African Americans, from 43 percent to 63 percent, over the three years. The gap between White and Black breastfeeding rates decreased by 9.6 percent.

“U.S. breastfeeding rates differ by race,” says study lead author Dr. Anne Merewood, associate professor of community health sciences at BUSPH and a Boston Medical Center researcher. “This is the first study that links better compliance with the WHO’s Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding to lower racial inequities across a large number of hospitals.”

Ms. Lakendrea Bush gave birth to her first daughter, Aubreigh, at Baptist Memorial Hospital, North Mississippi, on December 7th, 2018. The hospital is part of the CHAMPS program and working on improved maternal infant care.

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