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  The Minority/ Black Health Blog  

Saturday, September 13, 2014

How Some Hospitals Are Doing a Disservice to Black Mothers

Black mother breast-feeding

It has long been proven that breast feeding babies has many health benefits for babies as well as mothers. This practice among new mothers often begins at the hospital. But a U.S. government study says that promoting this practice is far less common at hospitals in neighborhoods with many black residents.

Study included 2,600 maternity centers

Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention examined 2,600 maternity centers and found that only 46 percent of hospitals in neighborhoods that had above average numbers of black residents encouraged breast-feeding. This compares with almost 60 percent of centers in areas with more white residents. At hospitals where black residents were above the national average of 12.2 percent, promoting breast-feeding is far less likely to occur.

Other racial disparities in newborn care

In addition to breast feeding, researchers pointed out that limited use of formula and "rooming-in" (keeping the mother and baby in the same room) is also beneficial for both baby and mother. Even these practices were far less promoted at hospitals with more black residents. In fact, among black residents, rooming in was standard practice at about 28 percent of hospitals in neighborhoods with more black residents compared to 39 percent at hospitals where more residents were white.

According to CDC researchers Jennifer Lind and others, "These findings suggest there are racial disparities in access to maternity care practices known to support breast-feeding."

These statements were published in the August 22 issue of the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. They seem to suggest that since maternal practices are often taught and begin at the hospital, and many black mothers may be missing out on these practices, a racial disparity may well exist.

To read the CDC report, visit
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