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Do Black-White Racial Disparities in Breastfeeding Persist in the Military Community?
Journal of Maternal and Child Health (2014)
  • Jennifer H. Lundquist, University of Massachusetts - Amherst
  • Zhun Xu
  • Wanda Barfield
  • Irma Elo

Objective: We conduct a comparative analysis of breastfeeding behavior between military and civilian-affiliated mothers. Our focus is on African American mothers among whom breastfeeding rates are lowest. The military context may mitigate conditions associated with low breastfeeding prevalence by a) providing stable employment and educational opportunities to populations who face an otherwise poor labor market and b) providing universal healthcare that includes breastfeeding consultation. Methods: Using Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) data for which we received special permission from each state to flag military affiliation, we analyze civilians and military affiliate in breastfeeding initiation using logistic regression and breastfeeding duration using Cox Proportional Hazard analysis. Results: We find that breastfeeding is more prevalent among all women in the military setting and that the black-white gap in breastfeeding duration common among civilians is significantly reduced among military affiliates. Conclusion: Breastfeeding is a crucial component of maternal and child health and eliminating racial disparities in its prevalence is a public health priority. This study is the first to identify the military as an important institutional context that deserves closer examination to glean potential policy implications for civilian society.

  • breatfeeding,
  • maternal and child health,
  • racial disparities,
  • military
Publication Date
Citation Information
Jennifer H. Lundquist, Zhun Xu, Wanda Barfield and Irma Elo. "Do Black-White Racial Disparities in Breastfeeding Persist in the Military Community?" Journal of Maternal and Child Health (2014)
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