Date of Conferral
Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
The American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 4-6 months of life to reduce risk of obesity in pre-school children. Previous research has indicated a high rate of obesity among Hispanic children in the northeastern United States. There is also a gap in the literature regarding the effectiveness of exclusive breastfeeding in preventing obesity among preschool Hispanic children. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine if there was an association between exclusive breastfeeding and obesity among pre-school Hispanic children enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Education Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) in a metropolitan area of mid-Atlantic region between the years 2004 and 2009. This retrospective secondary analysis of data for 4454 Hispanic children compared the body mass index (BMI) at 36-59 months of age for those that were breastfed to those that were not breastfed using the Student's t-test. Duration of exclusive breastfeeding was examined for any correlation with BMI for the cohort of breastfeeding women using Pearson's correlation analysis. Results revealed that the BMI for 1181 breastfed children was not statistically different from the non-breastfed children (16.97 vs. 17.04). However, there was a statistically significant inverse relationship between duration of breastfeeding and BMI among children of breastfeeding mothers (r = -.75, p < .05). These results make an important contribution to the existing literature and can enhance social change initiatives by encouraging practitioners to educate Hispanic mothers on the positive effects of exclusive breastfeeding the first 4 months of life which could help minimize obesity prevalence among children.