J Hum Lact 2012 May 24;28(2):226-32. Epub 2012 Jan 24.
Department of Public Health, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA
Breastfeeding has extensive health benefits for both infants and mothers. Despite these benefits, a significant number of women, disproportionately low-income women, do not initiate breastfeeding. Previous research has also demonstrated that breastfeeding prevalence varies by urbanicity level. The objective was to examine race/ethnicity and urbanicity trends in breastfeeding initiation among low-income women in North Carolina from 2003 to 2007. Breastfeeding initiation data from the North Carolina Pregnancy Nutrition Surveillance System were utilized, with responses from 240,054 women over the 5-year period. Overall, 65.4% of women in mixed-urban counties and 62.1% of women in urban counties initiated breastfeeding compared to only 49.8% of women in rural counties. The disparity between rural and urban counties widened over time, with urban and mixed-urban counties making significantly greater gains in breastfeeding initiation than rural counties. Hispanic and non-Hispanic white women had 6.17 (95% confidence interval [CI], 5.99-6.36) and 1.4 (95% CI, 1.46-1.53) times the odds of initiating breastfeeding as non-Hispanic blacks, respectively. Finally, stratified multivariate regression models identified that the association between race/ethnicity and breastfeeding varied by urbanicity level. The current study provides a clearer picture of rural and urban breastfeeding trends within North Carolina and has implications for states with similar racial/ethnic and urbanicity levels. The research determined that women in rural areas, particularly non-Hispanic blacks, are less likely to initiate breastfeeding. Increased emphasis should be placed on developing breastfeeding interventions for rural communities, particularly targeting the non-Hispanic black population.