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Breast-Feeding Less Common for Black Moms
Date:10/6/2010

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Black mothers in the United States are less likely to breast-feed their babies than other moms, and many cite a personal preference for the bottle as the primary reason, new research finds.

Overall, breast-feeding rates are rising, but the long-time disparity between ethnic groups persists, said Dr. Amudha Palaniappan, a pediatrics resident at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, N.J., who led the research. Fifty-four percent of black mothers try breast-feeding, while the national average is 73 percent, according to background information in the study.

Palaniappan, who was to present her research Monday at the American Academy of Pediatrics' conference in San Francisco, asked 62 black mothers and 83 non-black moms, all of whom were exclusively formula-feeding their infants, why they chose not to breast-feed.

She grouped their answers into categories, including barriers experts consider relatively easy to change (fear of pain, latching problems, milk supply issues); barriers that are not so easily changed (lack of desire to breast-feed, insufficient knowledge, previous formula-feeding, return to work or school), or true barriers (being on chemotherapy.)

Only 23 percent of the black mothers had easily changed barriers compared with 42 percent of the non-black mothers. Similarly, 89 percent of the black moms had barriers not easily changed versus 74 percent of the other ethnicities.

A lack of interest in breast-feeding was the most commonly reported barrier to nursing among black women -- 55 percent of black women compared to 27 percent of women in other ethnic groups felt this way.

Misinformation about breast-feeding was mentioned by 14 percent of black women and 31 percent of non-blacks.

"In other studies what has been shown is, there is this comfort level with formula [among black women], that formula is accept
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