Year of Publication



Public Health

Date Available


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

Dr. Angela Carman

Committee Member

Dr. Caitlin Pope

Committee Member

Dr. Kathryn Cardarelli


Breastfeeding is one of the best things a mother can do for her baby. It has many protective qualities including a reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes, respiratory infections, ear infections, and stomach bugs for the baby (CDC, 2022). There are also protective qualities for the mother as well, including a reduced risk of high blood pressure, breast and ovarian cancer, and type II diabetes. Breastfeeding exclusively, the infant only receives breastmilk and no other supplementation for 6 months, which maximizes the many benefits that breastfeeding has.

Rural areas of the United States face lower breastfeeding rates than their urban counterparts. One area that has low rates of initiation, longevity, and exclusivity of breastfeeding is Cocke County, Tennessee. This county has many risk factors for low rates of breastfeeding, including a high percentage of working women, a high percentage of single-parent families, and a high percentage of people living in poverty. Employment, a lack of support, and a lack of access to resources are all associated with lower breastfeeding rates. One way to mitigate these effects is through a breastfeeding promotion program.

County Health Rankings has found that breastfeeding promotion programs have strong evidence for increasing the rate of breastfeeding. Further, there is also evidence that physical workplace support can increase the rate of breastfeeding. The Business Case for Breastfeeding (BC4BF) provides a framework for implementing these evidence-based programs, which include lactation rooms, educational materials, support groups, and counseling. Using a Community Advisory Board, these rooms and materials will be adapted to the needs of working women in Cocke County, specifically those who work at Sonoco Products, Cocke County High School, and the Newport Medical Center.

The specific aims of the workplace breastfeeding promotion program are:

  1. Establish a Community Advisory Board to lead the creation of this workplace breastfeeding program, based on the needs and resources of each individual business.
  2. Implement the program at Sonoco Product, Cocke County High School, and the Newport Medical Center.
  3. Evaluate the impact of the program on breastfeeding initiation, longevity, and exclusivity.

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