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September 2008 Issue

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Study to Explore Why Hispanics Stop Breastfeeding Sooner in U.S.

Published September 2008

UC has awarded an interdisciplinary group of physicians and faculty $25,000 to study the breastfeeding beliefs and practices of Latina mothers living in Cincinnati.

“What we hope to do is gather some preliminary data for a much larger study for breastfeeding among all mothers here,” says one of two principal investigators, Lisa Vaughn, PhD, an associate professor of pediatrics.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that most all infants in the U.S. be fed breast milk throughout the first year of life.

Given this recommendation, Vaughn says the study’s purpose is to determine what causes Latina women in Cincinnati to discontinue breast feeding at a higher rate here than in their country of origin, and earlier than their Caucasian counterparts.

“Their rates are higher to start, but they pretty much quickly stop,” she says. There is little current data to explain this early cessation, says coresearcher Radha Reddy, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology.

However, what is known, she says, revolves around socio-economic factors and acculturation. For example, Latina women sometimes make the association that formula is more scientific, and thus more “American” and better than breast milk.

While the benefits of breastfeeding are tremendous, Reddy says the barriers for some women— especially Latina women—can be insurmountable: the need to return to work, lack of social support and language differences.

“We don’t know the answers. That’s why we are doing the study. Culturally speaking, a Latina mother should be a model for all breastfeeding moms in the U.S.,” says Reddy.

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