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Lactation program increases rate of breast feeding

Mother's milk is well documented to be the optimal source of nutrition for newborn babies; however, mothers of very low birth weight (VLBW) babies (those who weigh less than 1500 grams -- approximately 3.3 pounds) are among the least likely groups to initiate and sustain lactation.

Now, a study published in the Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing shows that a lactation program targeting mothers of very low birth weight babies (VLBWB) can be successful in raising the rate of breast-feeding among this group.

The Mother's Milk Club at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago is a lactation program that helps mothers whose children are cared for in the Rush neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). All mothers have access to the support and educational components in the program, and special services have been implemented to address the unique needs of low-income women with VLBW infants. Additionally, the women are invited to return to weekly luncheon meetings for continued lactation assistance after they are discharged from the hospital.

Very little data exists on the breast-feeding rates of women with VLBW infants. Most studies do not distinguish these women from mothers of low birth weight babies (those who are less than 2500 grams -- approximately 5.5 lbs). According to the study's lead investigator, Paula Meier, DNSc, director for Clinical Research and Lactation at Rush University Medical Center, VLBW infants are born disproportionately to low income or African American women. Both groups are much less likely to breast feed than Caucasian mothers or those with higher incomes.

The goal of the study was to examine the effectiveness of the Rush Mother's Milk Club by comparing it with the target goal of 75 percent of all new mothers breastfeeding as set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2010 report.

Meier analyzed records of 207 VLBW infants and their mothers. Following birth
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Contact: Chris Martin or John Pontarelli
cmartin@rush.edu
312-942-5579
Rush University Medical Center
23-Mar-2004


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