Too few minority women breastfeed—can ob/gyns change their minds?
Obstetricians and gynecologists have a unique opportunity to educate and encourage minority women to nurse their infants to help reduce persistent racial and ethnic disparities in breastfeeding. As part of prenatal care, ob/gyns should promote the known health benefits of breastfeeding and help identify potential barriers their minority patients may face, according to an article in Breastfeeding Medicine.
Coauthors Katherine Jones, Michael Power, PhD, John Queenan, and Jay Schulkin, PhD, from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American University, and Georgetown University, Washington, DC, present data from a comprehensive literature review demonstrating lower rates of breastfeeding initiation and continuation for some racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. compared to White women. By understanding the cultural and social factors and the inadequacies of the healthcare system that may affect a minority woman's decision to breastfeed and her attitudes toward nursing, ob/gyns may be better able to help their patients overcome obstacles to nursing.
In the article "Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Breastfeeding," the authors provide information such as what programs and techniques can positively impact these rates and they urge ob/gyns to use these data to support breastfeeding in their clinical practices and in public policy.
"The persistent disparities cast shame on our healthcare system, a system that continues to short change that part of our population that is most in need of the benefits of breastfeeding," says Arthur I. Eidelman, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Breastfeeding Medicine. "Hopefully clinicians will incorporate the information in this article into their daily activities and reverse this negative situation."