Breastfeeding, inequality, and state policy in the United States

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Title: Breastfeeding, inequality, and state policy in the United States
Author: Edwards, Eric M., 1974-
Abstract: Infant feeding has received insufficient attention in the social sciences. Breastfeeding is an important public health concern because it provides many benefits for infants, mothers, and the community. Breastfeeding rates in the United States increased from their lowest point in the early 1970s, but remain below the federal goals established by the Healthy People 2010 program. This is particularly the case for exclusive breastfeeding. Sociological and feminist theorists have identified several factors that influence breastfeeding, such as social class, race, and state support for lactating women. This research uses the National Immunization Survey, which contains a random sample of nearly 30,000 infant-caretaker pairs in the United States, to examine the affect of these factors on breastfeeding duration and intensiveness. Hierarchical linear modeling is used to analyze individual mothers within U.S. states to determine how class, race, and state-level policies affect breastfeeding rates. The models show that education level and income are strongly associated with both duration and intensity of breastfeeding. African-American and Hispanic women tend to breastfeed less than their white counterparts. State-level variables, particularly the number of lactation consultants employed in a state per 1000 live births, increase the likelihood of breastfeeding. The results of this research are used to suggest policy recommendations that may increase the duration and intensity of breastfeeding.
Description: xii, 169 p. A print copy of this thesis is available through the UO Libraries. Search the library catalog for the location and call number.
Date: 2009-03

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