African-American mothers are less likely to breast-feed their babies than mothers of other ethnicities, according to research from Cooper University Hospital in Camden, New Jersey, and reported by HealthDay News.

According to the article, researchers surveyed 145 moms (62 were black) who fed their infants formula, asking why they chose not to breast-feed.

Researchers grouped study participants’ responses into three breast-feeding barrier categories: those easily changed, those not easily changed, and those they were unable to change (called “true barriers,” such as moms being on chemotherapy treatment).

Results showed 55 percent of black mothers most commonly reported no breast-feeding interest (a barrier not easy to change) compared with 27 percent of women in other ethnic groups. Overall, 89 percent of black moms reported not-easily-changed barriers compared with 74 percent of other ethnicities.

Experts said many black moms were unaware of breast-feeding benefits—for example, that breast-feeding provides disease-fighting antibodies to infants and lowers cancer risks for moms.

Although breast-feeding rates have risen, disparities remain among ethnic groups, said Amudha Palaniappan, MD, lead study researcher.

Researchers recommend coordinated efforts to educate mothers and families about breast-feeding benefits and to clarifying misinformation and myths about the practice.
Click here to read how breast-feeding can boost babies’ immunity against infections.