Breastfeeding among the black community
Increasing breastfeeding rates is of top concern to U.S. health officials. The government's goal is to have 82% of new moms breastfeed by 2020. It's an important goal. But if we're to achieve it, there's one population that needs to be really be targeted: African Americans. A study by the CDC shows that only 40 percent of black women have ever breastfed. That's compared to 70 percent of white women and 72 percent of Hispanics.
Why the discrepancy? Well, there are several reasons, some economic and some cultural. I've read some comments recently by African American women who said it never dawned on them to breastfeed because neither they, nor their siblings were. Often their mothers were never breastfed. Other reasons tend to be socio-economic. Studies have shown that the more educated a woman is, and the higher the socio-economic class she's in, the more likely she is to breastfeed.
This tells us that, while our outreach efforts need to continue on all fronts, we need to be especially diligent about increasing awareness of the benefits to those in the African American communities. This entails better pre-natal care, education at that stage, and follow-through support after a baby is born. It's not enough to just assume that what education is provided at the time of delivery will be enough.