Keely FordFollow




Political Science


Palmer, Michelle

Advisor Department

Nursing, College of




Breastfeeding, Equity, Socioeconomic Factors

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends exclusively breastfeeding for six months due to breast milk's nutritional value and protection against various long term and short-term illnesses. Children who are exclusively breastfed for six months have reduced rates of asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes, severe lower respiratory disease, acute otitis media, sudden infant death syndrome, gastrointestinal infections, and necrotizing enterocolitis in premature infants. The CDC’s most recent national immunizations study, observing infants born in 2018, discovered that only 56.7% of infants were being breastfed at six months and not exclusively. And only 25.8% of infants born in 2018 were breastfed exclusively for the recommended six months. The aim of my research is to determine if socioeconomic factors influence the rate and duration that new mothers breastfeed. While doing my literature review, I searched for relevant, peer reviewed articles using keywords like equity, breastfeeding, and socioeconomic factors. The WIC program has done several studies on breastfeeding rates and the challenges mothers have while breastfeeding. The requirements for this program often classify participants as socioeconomically marginalized, or SEM, and these were useful in my results as well. I discovered that education level and employment status influence both the breastfeeding rate and duration. The breastfeeding rate of new mothers who are employed decreases after 3 months, which correlates directly with the amount of paid maternity leave the US requires. Also, the type of job and work support system was a huge determinant of breastfeeding rates. Individuals with lower incomes have reduced breastfeeding rates. There was a lack of information on how income level influences breastfeeding rates and duration and more research needs to be done on this topic. Interventions that improve rates and duration of breastfeeding among women of all socioeconomic status include education, counseling, and support for new mothers across the socioeconomic scale. The baby friendly initiative in hospitals have positively influenced breastfeeding rates too. This information is valuable for health care workers. They can prioritize these interventions in individuals with socioeconomic factors that negatively affect breastfeeding rates and duration.