Submitted to: Journal of Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/7/2001
Publication Date: 4/20/2002
Citation: ZAGHLOUL, S., DUKE, L., HARRISON, G., STUFF, J., GALAL, O., WINHAM, D. CULTURAL AND SOCIAL BARRIERS TO BREASTFEEDING AMONG WOMEN IN SOUTHERN ARKANSAS. JOURNAL OF FEDERATION OF AMERICAN SOCIETIES FOR EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY. 2002. v. 16(4). p. A978. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Breastfeeding rates in the US have been rising for several years. However, rates in southern Arkansas are very low and many women remain reluctant to breastfeed. Medical records obtained from the regional hospital in SE Arkansas revealed a breastfeeding initiation rate of 18% in 1997. Neither maternal nor infant medical problems were found to contribute to the low prevalence. The present study investigated cultural and social barriers to breastfeeding through qualitative research methods. Twelve focus groups were conducted among health care providers (n=12), pregnant women (n=18), breastfeeding mothers (n=12) and non-breastfeeding mothers (n=21). Questions addressed perceptions of breastfeeding, persons influencing maternal decisions, and barriers to breastfeeding. The discussions were taped and transcribed for this analysis. The breastfeeding women were older than non-breastfeeding mothers (28 years on average vs. 22 years), were more likely to be white (58% vs. 10%), and were more highly educated (83% with college degree vs. 66%). The very low rates of breastfeeding in this area appear to be related primarily to the decision not to initiate the practice rather than to barriers to continuation. Supported by CSREES/USDA under Agreement No. 98-38814-6203.