Do Racial Disparities in Breastfeeding Persist in the Military Community?

Jennifer H. Lundquist, University of Massachusetts
Zhun Xu, University of Massachusetts
Wanda Barfield, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The persistence of myriad racial health disparities has moved the U.S. government to prioritize the reduction of such disparities by 2020. Despite this there has been surprisingly little research investigating racial disparities in breast feeding. This is the first paper to conduct a comparative analysis between military and civilian-affiliated mothers. The military setting provides stable employment to populations who face an otherwise poor labor market and offers educational opportunities and healthcare to soldiers and family members. It also has other characteristics associated with breastfeeding, such as very high marriage rates and a well-child program, which, since 2001, has covered breastfeeding consultation for military families. Using logistic regression and Cox proportional hazards regression to predict breastfeeding initiation and duration, we find that breastfeeding is, on the whole, more prevalent in the military setting. We furthermore find that the racial gap in breastfeeding duration common among civilians is reduced among military-affiliates.

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Presented in Session 157: Demography and Ethno-Racial Inequality II