April 26, 2010
Clinical Study Supports Benefit Of Breastfeeding Support For Obese Women
Breastfeeding is best, but what happens when something goes wrong? And why do so many women struggle with this "natural" process even after carefully following all the well-meaning advice they've gotten from their health care providers? Not surprisingly, some women have more difficulty than others and there are many factors associated with experiencing breastfeeding problems "“ especially in the first week after birth. For example, being African-American, having less than a high school education, and being poor are all associated with suboptimal breastfeeding outcomes. Recent studies also consistently show that being overweight or obese increases the chance that a woman will suffer breastfeeding problems. With burgeoning rates of obesity and a continued public health effort to promote breastfeeding, researchers are scrambling to figure out why overweight women have trouble breastfeeding and what can be done to circumvent this predicament.
On April 25, two talks concerning the potential benefits of intensive breastfeeding support for obese women were presented at the Experimental Biology 2010 meeting in Anaheim. These presentations are part of the scientific program of the American Society for Nutrition, the nation's leading nutrition research society. Scientists from the University of Connecticut, Hartford's Hispanic Health Council, the Hartford Hospital, and Yale University will speak. Their findings provide compelling evidence that peer counseling and support can substantially improve breastfeeding success among these at-risk ladies.
As they had hoped, Chapman and her colleagues found that peer counseling substantially improved breastfeeding success. Whereas 16% and 46% of the women in the "control" group had stopped breastfeeding by 2 and 8 weeks postpartum, respectively, only 7% and 33% of the women in the "intervention" group had stopped. They also documented important effects of personalized breastfeeding support on infant nursing behaviors. And to add even more bang for the buck, babies of mothers who received the extra counseling were 3.5 times less likely to be hospitalized during their first 3 months of life. This was mostly due to lower rates of respiratory infections and fever.
Chapman concluded "With help, obese women can be very successful at breastfeeding. And not surprisingly, the more intensive the support, the more successful they can be." This should be reassuring to both women and their care providers who are striving to do the right thing in terms of maternal and infant care"“ that is, support the myriad benefits of breastfeeding for both mom and baby.
Dr. Donna Chapman; Katherine Morel (Hispanic Health Council); Nan Kyer, IBCLC (Hispanic Health Council); Sarah Young, RN, MSN, IBCLC (Hartford Hospital); Dr. Rafael Perez-Escamilla (Yale University); Dr. Angela Bermudez-Millan (Hispanic Health Council); and Grace Damio, MS, CD/N (Hispanic Health Council) were co-authors on these studies. Funding for this research was secured by Dr. Rafael Perez-Escamilla (principal investigator) from the Donaghue Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and from NIH NCMHD grant P20MD001765.
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