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Public Health


Srikanta Banerjee


Among low-income mothers enrolled in the Women Infant and Child (WIC) program and Medicaid, the rate of initiating breastfeeding immediately after delivery is low (57%) compared to high-income mothers (74%). Among the many factors contributing to this are low-income mothers' poor knowledge of the benefits of breast-feeding and lack of support and encouragement from clinical staff, family, and community. However, few studies have singled out the role of community and family support in improving maternal knowledge and breastfeeding practices. Using the Theory of Planned Behavior framework, this quantitative study used WIC data from the Texas Department of Health and Human Services and was conducted to examine the influence of mothers' knowledge and support from clinic staff, family and community, on breastfeeding practices. Most participants were > 24 years old, and the majority (61.3%) had secondary or high school education. Most participants (83.5%) initiated breastfeeding after child delivery, 39.4% used breast milk, and 42.1% used both breast milk and formula. After controlling for socioeconomic variables, chi-squared analysis and multivariate logistic regression analysis indicated that mothers' knowledge and support from clinic staff, and community are significant contributing factors to breastfeeding practice. These findings can lead to positive social change that includes the development and improvement of appropriate strategies for breastfeeding education and support for low-income women enrolled in WIC and Medicaid.

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