Breastfeeding duration, costs, and benefits of a support program for low-income breastfeeding women

Birth. 2002 Jun;29(2):95-100. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-536x.2002.00169.x.


Background: Breastfeeding can ameliorate some of the complex health issues faced by low-income families. Women who breastfeed and their infants have lower health care costs compared with those who formula feed. Increasing the duration of breastfeeding is recognized as a national priority, particularly for low-income women. This community-based randomized clinical trial involving low-income mothers compared usual care with an intervention comprising hospital and home visits, and telephone support by a community health nurse/peer counselor team for 6 months after delivery.

Methods: Forty-one women were recruited after delivery of a full-term singleton infant and randomly assigned to intervention or usual care groups.

Results: Women receiving the community health intervention breastfed longer than the women receiving usual care. The infants in the intervention group had fewer sick visits and reported use of fewer medications than infants in the usual care group. The intervention cost ($301/mother) was partially offset by cost savings on formula and health care.

Conclusions: Community health nurse and peer counselor support can increase breastfeeding duration in low-income women, and has the potential to reduce total costs including the cost of support.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • Breast Feeding / psychology*
  • Community Health Nursing / methods*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Food / economics
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal Welfare / economics*
  • Mid-Atlantic Region
  • Peer Group
  • Poverty*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Social Support*
  • Time Factors