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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

George Mason: New Study Finds High Rates of Formula Use among Low-income Infants, Recommends Changes

George Mason University’s College of Health and Human Services found high rates of mixed breastfeeding and early introduction of formula among a sample of predominantly Hispanic immigrant mothers participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program in Loudon County, Virginia.

Led by Dr. Sina Gallo and published in Public Health Nutrition, they found that 61 percent of infants in the sample received formula in the first few days after they were born. More than half of the mothers stated that they fed their babies with formula because they lacked enough breast milk. Additionally, cultural beliefs may have encouraged the use of a mix of both breast milk and formula.

Dr. Gallo and colleagues suggest that most early breast-feeding problems can be mitigated with education about when and how much to breast feed and culturally appropriate clinical support.

They recommend that policymakers increase focus on intense lactation support in the first weeks, including improved baby friendly hospital practices as well as limiting formula as a part of the WIC package for the first month, except for special circumstances.