Resident Physician (PGY3) East Carolina University East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine Greenville, North Carolina, United States
Background: Very low birth weight (VLBW) infants whose diet consists of human breast milk benefit from improved health outcomes. Historically at our institution VLBW infants were primarily discharged home with formula. There is evidence that race, socioeconomic status, and social support play important roles in maternal desire, ability to provide breast milk and attitude toward breastfeeding.
Objective: A cross-sectional, single blinded survey was utilized to identify barriers to mothers providing breast milk for their VLBW infants in rural eastern North Carolina.
Design/Methods: The research team prospectively identified eligible participants as mothers of infants born VLBW admitted from October 2018 to January 2020. The survey questions consisted of multiple and combined answers regarding information about health history, feeding preferences, breast pumps, challenges to providing breast milk, and demographics.
Results: A total of 76 or 67.3% of eligible mothers were approached and of those 50 or 65.8% consented to survey. Surveys were collected from all 50 (100%) of consented participants. Results showed disparities between white mothers (n=16) and mothers of color (n=34) in regards to their ability to adequately provide breast milk for their infants, 86.7% vs 36.7% (p=0.0009). The odds ratio of not having an adequate milk supply for mothers of color was 11 (95% confidence interval: 81-3), p<0.001. Mothers of color were less likely to be married (79.4% vs 12.5%, p<0.0001), more likely to qualify for WIC benefits (43.8% vs 85.3%, p<0.001), and less likely to have been breastfed by their own mothers (37.5% vs 5.9%, p=0.02). Conclusion(s): Mothers of color mothers were less likely to be able to adequately provide breast milk for their VLBW infants. Further research is needed to further elucidate reasons for lack of continued breast milk provision and efforts must continue to improve the rates of breastfeeding especially with mothers of color mothers of VLBW infants.
Authors/Institutions: Bianca F. Rad, East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine, Greenville, North Carolina, United States; John A. Kohler, East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine, Greenville, North Carolina, United States; Kelly Bear, East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine, Greenville, North Carolina, United States