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Mother’s Milk Feeding Disparities for VLBW Infants

J Pediatr; ePub 2018 Sep 28; Parker, Gupta, et al

Hispanic and non-Hispanic black mothers were less likely than non-Hispanic white mothers to continue providing milk for their very low birth weight (VLBW) infants throughout the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) stay, a recent study found. Researchers studied 1,318 mother-VLBW infant pairs in 9 Massachusetts level 3 NICUs between January 2015 and November 2017. Mothers were 48% non-Hispanic white, 21% non-Hispanic black, and 20% Hispanic. Researchers estimated associations of maternal race/ethnicity with any and exclusive mother's milk on day 7, on day 28, and at discharge/transfer and hospital practices. They found:

  • Initiation of mother's milk was similar across groups, but infants of Hispanic mothers (hazard ratio [HR], 2.71) and non-Hispanic black mothers (HR, 1.55) stopped receiving milk earlier in the hospitalization compared with infants of non-Hispanic white mothers.
  • Hispanic mothers had lower odds of providing skin-to-skin care at <1 month (odds ratio [OR], 0.61) compared with non-Hispanic whites.


Parker MG, Gupta M, Melvin P, et al. Racial and ethnic disparities in the use of mother's milk feeding for very low birth weight infants in Massachusetts. [Published online ahead of print September 28, 2018]. J Pediatr. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2018.08.036.