Year of Publication

2015

College

Public Health

Degree Name

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

Committee Chair

Sarah Wackerbarth, PhD

Committee Member

Tyrone Borders, PhD

Committee Member

Ana Linares, PhD

Abstract

Protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding (BF) are critical public health needs. Breastfeeding has been proven to provide the healthiest start in life and has been shown to have a myriad of health benefits for infants, mothers and society at large. Exclusive and long term breastfeeding has been found to have protective function against the prevalence of obesity as well as many other adverse health outcomes. Higher levels of breastfeeding support in the child-care setting have been associated with higher likelihood of duration of breastfeeding for mothers and infants. The primary objective of this study was to assess the current prevalence of written breastfeeding policies in a sample of child-care centers in north-central Kentucky, and to examine the relationship between the directors’ years of experience, level of education and the centers’ accreditation status, to the likelihood of having a written breastfeeding policy (outcome variable). The study, incorporated a descriptive exploratory survey to collect information about practices and policies of 35 child-care centers (N=35) in Kentucky. Descriptive statistics were used to characterize the participant child-care centers and directors. Bivariate analysis with chi-square statistics were conducted to examine the association between the independent variables (i.e., director’s years of experience, level of education and accreditation status of the center and having a written breastfeeding policy). The results revealed that while a larger proportion of child-care centers which had a written breastfeeding policy were accredited (74%) compared to those centers who did not have a written breastfeeding policy (67%), this difference was not statistically significant (95% CI: .30-6.99; P=.638). Analysis of results also found no significant association between having a written breastfeeding policy and the variables in this particular model which included: Director’ years of experience (95% CI: .09-1.64; P=.192), level of education (95% CI:.54-2.05; P=.890) and center’s accreditation (95% CI: .30-6.99; P=.638).The findings of non-significant associations between the variables analyzed in this study suggests a lack of education about the benefits of breastfeeding over formula feeding in the formal education system amongst child-care professionals and highlight the importance and need for further federal or state support of breastfeeding in the child-care setting by means of policy in order to help breastfeeding become a cultural norm and not simply a life style choice that parents make.

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