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CLCs Cited as Resource to Address Breastfeeding Disparities

By February 13, 2019 No Comments

A recent article in the Journal of Human Lactation titled “Breastfeeding in the Community: Addressing Disparities Through Policy, Systems, and Environmental Changes Interventions” discusses the disparities in meeting national breastfeeding goals between non-Hispanic black infants and non-Hispanic white infants and reviews the CDC’s efforts to address the gap through community-driven solutions

In 2014, the CDC engaged in a cooperative agreement with the National Association of Country and City Health Officials (NACCHO) to implement the Reducing Disparities in Breastfeeding Through Peer and Professional Support Project. As part of the program, funding was awarded to community agencies with overarching requirements to provide direct peer or professional lactation support services and develop and maintain public health partnerships to build community support for breastfeeding.

Since black and low-income mothers are disproportionately affected by barriers which that affect their ability to breastfeed, local health departments and community-based organizations were identified as uniquely positioned to lead breastfeeding promotion and support efforts in the community. To deconstruct the barriers and build environments where breastfeeding can be the easy default option, the article explained that the community context needs to be changed to increase access to breastfeeding care by establishing supportive policies, systems and environments. One of the ways identified to do this was to leverage external partner resources such as CLCS.

Some of the grantees who used NACCHO funds invested grant dollars to increase the capability of staff members, contractors, community volunteers, and staff members from partner organizations to provide lactation support services in the community. Among this group, some people receive training to become a certified lactation counselor (CLC). In fact, 279 people received training to qualify for the CLC or equivalent certification exam.

The article concludes that to provide breastfeeding promotion, education and support services in black and low-income communities, programs can’t solely focus on individual behavior change but need to incorporate breastfeeding services into larger programing and build solid community relationship that can strengthen the collective capacity to address structural barriers.

Read the article here.