Only 12% of uninsured parents take breastfeeding classes, according to a new poll.
A recent University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health finds that although 40% of first-time parents report attending a breastfeeding class, only 12% of those without health insurance report doing so.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding infants until 6 months of age, followed by breastfeeding in combination with the introduction of solid foods until at least 1 year of age. However, only about 50% of US moms are still breastfeeding at 6 months.
Breastfeeding can be challenging, and experts say that classes are one of the best ways to help ensure success. However, classes tend to cost somewhere between $30 and $80, says a hospital researcher.
Investigators at the University of Michigan surveyed 452 parents of children aged 0 to 3 years. Overall, 26% of the group reported having attended a breastfeeding class. The poll found that 28% of parents with private insurance and 29% of parents with public insurance attended a class, while just 12% of uninsured parents did so.
The investigators commented that class attendance was not related to parent race/ethnicity, income, or education level. Previous studies have shown that African-Americans and those with lower incomes or less education are less likely to breastfeed.
Because the benefits of breastfeeding to mother and baby abound, suggestions for increasing class attendance include that physicians write prescriptions for classes as part of routine prenatal care and that hospitals provide the classes to parents before they take their newborns home.
To get weekly clinical advice for today's pediatrician, subscribe to the Contemporary Pediatrics eConsult.