Dr. Whitney Hamilton, a recent graduate of the DrPH Program at Georgia Southern University Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, and her advisor, Dr. Yelena Tarasenko, examined rural-urban differences in breastfeeding in Georgia mothers from 2004 to 2013. Despite the rise in overall national breastfeeding rates, Georgia continues to have lower rates of exclusive breastfeeding at 6 months than the national average, despite a slightly higher initiation rate. Improvement in the rate of any breastfeeding at 6 months as a means to improve Georgia’s overall childhood obesity is a priority of the Georgia Department of Public Health Strategic Plan.
“This descriptive study was a part of a larger quasi-experimental research on effects of breastfeeding policies on breastfeeding initiation and continuation in the U.S. I have successfully completed that research project as part of my dissertation guided by Drs. Tarasenko, Sullivan, and Marshall.” said Dr. Hamilton.
The observational study was based on the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System data. In both unadjusted and adjusted analyses, significantly fewer rural than urban mothers initiated breastfeeding. Similar rural-urban differences persisted throughout the 10-year study period. Fewer rural than urban mothers continued breastfeeding for at least 8 weeks, although this difference overall and over time was significant only in unadjusted analyses.
Interventions increasing breastfeeding initiation in rural mothers can be expected to lead to cumulative increase in breastfeeding practices among Georgia women. Equally important, however, is to increase the rates of breastfeeding initiation in all women and support for all women to continue breastfeeding for longer duration.
Tags: Friday Letter Submission, Publish on October 04