Are We Doing Enough to Get Breastmilk to the Infants Who Need It Most?
December 13, 2017 | Strategic Insights for Health System
Access to breastmilk in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) is not evenly distributed along demographic lines, with hospitals that serve higher percentages of non-Hispanic black infants reporting lower percentages of infants receiving breastmilk, according to a study in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) December 8, 2017, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The disparity is especially notable because breastmilk is particularly important for preterm infants and black mothers are at increased risk of preterm births, CDC said. Black mothers as a group also have lower breastfeeding rates, CDC said. Data from the 2015 Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care survey found that hospitals serving areas with a higher percentage of black residents showed lower rates of infants receiving their own mother's breastmilk in the NICU. The median rate receiving breastmilk was 72% and banked donor breastmilk was 5%; hospitals serving areas with lower percentages of black residents had higher median rates of 80% and 10%, respectively.