Breastfeeding Initiation as Related to the Interaction of Race/Ethnicity and Maternal Diabetes

Breastfeed Med. 2019 Nov;14(9):630-639. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2019.0065. Epub 2019 Jul 31.


Introduction: The health benefits of breastfeeding for both the mother and her offspring are well established, and breastfeeding may be especially important for mitigating negative health effects of pregnancy complicated by diabetes. Objective: This study sought to examine the association between race/ethnicity, maternal diabetes, and breastfeeding initiation in South Carolina (SC). Materials and Methods: Our study population is comprised of all live, singleton, full-term births in SC delivered January 2004 to December 2016 (292,468 non-Hispanic Whites, 173,158 non-Hispanic Blacks, and 52,174 Hispanics). Generalized estimating equations and an interaction term between race/ethnicity and maternal diabetes status were used to estimate the race/ethnic-specific odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) that a mother with diabetes versus without diabetes initiated breastfeeding. Models were adjusted for maternal and infant sociodemographics (Model 1), additionally for clinical variables and birth outcomes (Model 2), and also for maternal prepregnancy body mass index (BMI) (Model 3). Results: We found statistically significant differences in breastfeeding initiation by race/ethnicity and diabetes status in Model 1. These associations were attenuated and lost significance upon additional adjustment. Non-Hispanic Black mothers with gestational diabetes were significantly more likely to initiate breastfeeding than nondiabetic non-Hispanic Black mothers, even after adjustment for prepregnancy BMI (OR: 1.07 [95% CI 1.02-1.12]). Conclusion: This large, population-based study of all live, singleton, full-term births in SC improves our understanding of how race/ethnicity and maternal metabolic disorders impact breastfeeding initiation, and may inform future hospital-based breastfeeding interventions in populations with the most need.

Keywords: gestational diabetes; maternal obesity; pregnancy; race/ethnic disparities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Black People
  • Black or African American
  • Body Mass Index
  • Breast Feeding / ethnology*
  • Breast Feeding / statistics & numerical data*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / ethnology*
  • Diabetes, Gestational / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Diabetics
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • South Carolina
  • Term Birth
  • White People
  • Young Adult