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Few Babies in Child-Care Centers Receive Breast Milk: Study
Date:5/6/2011

center provided a refrigerator or freezer where mothers could store pumped breast milk overnight.

Only 26 percent of the centers said human milk could be stored overnight.

Three factors -- allowing parents to store human milk overnight, a primarily white enrollment, and a smaller proportion of babies receiving subsidized tuition -- seemed to raise the odds that babies cared for at a center might receive their mother's milk, the researchers found.

Copeland said that although the study didn't examine the reasons why so few infants received bottles of pumped breast milk while at day care, a lack of overnight storage might be a key contributing factor.

The low prevalence of human milk feeding among non-white and low-income infants, especially, might also "reflect lower breast-feeding initiation rates or women's limited options for pumping in the workplace," the authors noted.

"The findings speak to the tremendous challenges that women face in being able to successfully breast-feed their babies," said breast-feeding researcher Dr. Alison Stuebe, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill.

Stuebe agreed that the differences seen between babies from poorer or more affluent homes might be due, in part, to mothers not being able to pump during the workday. "The higher your income, the more likely it is that you have an office with a door that you can close for twenty minutes so you can pump," she said. "If you're working at the drive-through window of a fast-food restaurant, you don't have that option."

Child-care centers that want to be truly cooperative need to do more than just provide overnight storage for pumped milk, Stuebe noted. "For instance, there should also be a comfortable place where mothers can sit down and nurse their babies, either at lunchtime or when they come to pick them up at the end of the day," she said.

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