New Breastfeeding Data and National Breastfeeding Month

August 19, 2020

The recently released CDC 2020 Breastfeeding Report Card indicates breastfeeding initiation in Louisiana decreased from 70% in 2016 to 66% in 2017. The low initiation rate highlights the importance of strengthening prenatal breastfeeding education and supporting mothers in making informed decisions about how they feed their baby.

While there are many opportunities for improving breastfeeding outcomes, CDC data indicates an improvement among Louisiana’s exclusive breastfeeding rates. Breastfeeding exclusivity at 3 months increased from 30% in 2016 to 39% in 2017 and at 6 months from 16% to 22%, respectively. A Healthy People objective is to increase exclusive breastfeeding for infants through 6 months of age, with a target of 42.4% of all infants in the United States reaching this goal.

The 2020 Breastfeeding Report Card also includes results from the 2018 CDC Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care (mPINC) survey. The mPINC measures care practices and policies that impact newborn feeding, feeding education, staff skills, and discharge support. The CDC sends a report to every participating facility highlighting specific changes they can make to support breastfeeding; in Louisiana, 88% of birthing facilities participated in the survey. 

The Louisiana mPINC Results Report reveals a state score of 75 out of 100 compared to 79, nationally. The mPINC score for the nation ranged from 68 to 96. Louisiana scored well in the Feeding Education and Support subdomain (91 out of 100). This subdomain includes teaching mothers to position and latch their newborn, assessing effective breastfeeding, hand expressing milk, recognizing and responding to feeding cues, breastfeeding on demand, and understanding the risks of using artificial nipples and pacifiers. It also includes teaching mothers whose newborns are fed any formula on how to prepare and feed baby formula safely. The remaining five subdomains indicate room for improvement; The Gift program will review the results this Fall during a regional collaborative meeting for birthing facilities to identify strategies to improve maternity care practices that support breastfeeding and improve future mPINC scores.

August is National Breastfeeding Month, and the theme this year is “Many Voices United.” Each week focuses on a different topic and this week is Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies, followed by Black Breastfeeding Week from August 25-31. There remain many opportunities to engage in national conversations about breastfeeding.

COVID-19 has served to highlight racial health disparities, and breastfeeding rates reflect the same inequities. According to the 2018 PRAMS data, 60% of non-Hispanic Black women initiated breastfeeding compared with 79% of non-Hispanic White women. A central focus of The Gift is to reduce racial breastfeeding disparities, and data demonstrate that The Gift makes a difference: breastfeeding initiation among Black women who delivered in Gift designated facilities (61%) was higher than among those who delivered in a non-designated facility (48%) (PRAMS 2016-2018).

The Gift provides resources and tools to assist hospital efforts to narrow the racial breastfeeding gap by:

  1. Having open discussions about the issue
  2. Monitoring inequities by examining patients outcomes by race
  3. Implicit bias staff training
  4. Inviting a diverse team of parents to participate on committees to find solutions to community health issues and elevate community voices. 
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