Few low-income moms breastfeed for 6 mos.

March 16, 2012 at 8:58 PM   |   Comments

LANSING, Mich., March 16 (UPI) -- Breast milk is rich in antibodies that help infants fight disease but only 2 percent of low-income moms breastfeed to recommendations, U.S. researchers say.

Jennifer Hanna, a student at the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State University, and pediatrics Professor Mari Douma, said it is recommended to breastfeed infants exclusively for the first six months, and to breastfeed with solid food added until a child is 1 year old.

The study found 1.8 percent of low-income women who planned to breastfeed for 12 months reached that goal, while 50 percent of more affluent women who planned to do so met their goal.

The low-income mothers said obstacles they encountered when breastfeeding required them to stop sooner than they planned to breastfeed.

"Socioeconomic status clearly is an important factor contributing to mothers not meeting their own goals for breastfeeding duration," Hanna said in a statement. "But regardless of socioeconomic status, breastfeeding mothers need more support from their physicians to attain breastfeeding success."

Hanna said the study was conducted at an urban clinic serving mainly a Medicaid population.

The researchers asked women questions geared toward trying to understand why they may not breastfeed when they have children. The data were compared with a previous study geared toward a more affluent population in a suburban area.

Hanna presented the findings at the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians' 49th annual convention in Kissimmee, Fla.

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