Addressing Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Breastfeeding Through Community and Hospital-Based Approaches

Originally presented on December 14, 2022


Human milk is recognized as providing optimal nutrition and many health benefits to infants and birth parents. Its use should be recommended and supported to ensure it is available for all infants. However, there are significant disparities in the infant feeding of human milk and the accompanying benefits from breastfeeding. Lower prevalence of breastfeeding by those in the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) community do not happen in isolation; they are part of lifelong pervasive disparities faced by this community on a regular basis. Against a backdrop of systemic racism, structural barriers, and cultural factors, they manifest as disparities in maternal morbidity, maternal and infant mortality, and most recently COVID-19 infection. Breastfeeding success is impacted by the full socio-ecological spectrum of influences including individual, family, community, as well as public and institutional policies.  

In order to address disparities in breastfeeding, changes in the hospital and health care environments and greater involvement from impacted communities are needed. The purpose of this webcast will be to summarize trends in disparities in breastfeeding measures, identify contributing factors, describe successful initiatives to increase breastfeeding and reduce disparities, and discuss examples of steps being taken to implement these strategies in New York.



Addressing Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Breastfeeding Through Community and Hospital-Based Approaches


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Anne Merewood, PhD, MPH
Director, Center for Health Equity, Education, & Research (Cheer)  
Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine  
Associate Professor of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health

Camie Goldhammer, MSW, LICSW, IBCLC (Sisseton-Wahpeton)
Founding Executive Director, Doula and Lactation Consultant, Hummingbird Indigenous Family Services
Founder and Managing Director, Indigenous Lactation Counselor, Native American Breastfeeding Coalition of Washington 

Learning Outcome and Objectives

As a result of participation in this activity, the learners will increase and enhance knowledge and competence in addressing racial/ethnic disparities in breastfeeding through community and hospital-based approaches.

After watching this webcast participants will be able to: 

  • Review the trends in breastfeeding prevalence and racial/ethnic disparities in New York and the U.S. 
  • Recognize barriers contributing to disparities in breastfeeding.   
  • Discuss community engagement strategies to increase equitable access to lactation resources.  
  • Explain methods, including quality improvement, to increase hospital compliance with the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.  
  • Identify the different components of the Communities and Hospitals Advancing Maternity Practices Initiative to increase breastfeeding prevalence and reduce racial disparities.
Evaluation, Post-Test and Certificate
Continuing Education Credits

Continuing Education Credits for this activity expired on December 31, 2023. We encourage you to fill out the evaluation as your responses help us to plan future programs.