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Pediatrics. 2000 Jun;105(6):E85.

Georgia's breastfeeding promotion program for low-income women.

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Division of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30341-3724, USA.



Beginning in 1990, Georgia's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) initiated 5 new strategies to promote breastfeeding among its pregnant and postpartum clients. These strategies were implemented in 1991, each to be provided as an addition to its standard program of counseling on breastfeeding and distributing appropriate literature: 1) enhanced breastfeeding education, 2) breast pump loans, 3) hospital-based programs, 4) peer counseling, and 5) community coalitions. The enhanced breastfeeding education strategy provides access to a hotline as well as periodic training of staff, and the breast pump loan provides free breast pumps to mothers who want to use them. The hospital-based strategy provides bedside support and counseling to women who have just given birth and includes staff training, as well as a hotline number for women to call after they leave the hospital. The peer-counseling strategy focuses on identifying former WIC participants who have successfully breastfed their infants; these women are recruited to provide support and encouragement to current WIC participants. Finally, the community coalitions approach is designed to identify existing community attitudes about breastfeeding, establish plans to address gaps in breastfeeding services, to develop resource guides on breastfeeding for the community, and to advocate at the community level to support breastfeeding women. The objective of our research was to evaluate the impact of breastfeeding promotion strategies on breastfeeding initiation among WIC participants in Georgia.


Using data from the Pregnancy Nutrition Surveillance System (PNSS) for 1992-1996, we examined breastfeeding initiation rate during this period and compared rates among 6 different intervention strategies. Also, we used data from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) to assess breastfeeding initiation and duration among WIC enrollees. We conducted 13 focus groups to understand the experiences of program participants. Ten focus groups were conducted with women who were breastfeeding their infants, 3 each with women from the community coalitions, hospital-based programs, and standard education programs, and 1 with women from the breast pump loan program. Three focus groups were conducted with women who were feeding their infants formula.


PNSS data show that breastfeeding initiation increased in the Georgia WIC program from 31.6% in 1992 to 39.5% in 1996. PRAMS data confirmed the increase in breastfeeding initiation from 33.6% (standard error [SE]: 2.2) in 1993 to 42.1% (SE: 2.4) in 1996 among WIC participants. Both datasets (PRAMS and PNSS) showed breastfeeding initiation to be well below the year 2000 goal of 75%. Overall, PRAMS data show a high breastfeeding initiation among non-WIC participants (range: 64.7% [SE: 2.2]) for 1994 to 70.1% (SE: 2.2) in 1996. The percent change between 1993 and 1996 was 8% for non-WIC participants, and it was 25% for the WIC participants among those responding to the PRAMS questionnaire. Data from PRAMS indicated no statistical change in the percentage of WIC enrollees who breastfed their infants for 8 weeks or more; this estimate was 18.3% (95% confidence interval (CI): 14.9-21.8) in 1993 and 19.4% (95% CI: 15.7-23.2) in 1996, well below the Healthy People 2000 objective of 50% at 6 months. According to PNSS data, the largest increases in breastfeeding initiation for 1992 to 1996 were among younger women (</=19 and 20-24 years old), those with no college (less than high school and high school only), unmarried, and black women (see Table 1). The smallest increases during this period were among older women (30+), those with more than a high school education, and women who were white, Hispanic, or from other ethnic or racial groups. The PRAMS data (1993-1996) generally display similar results, but the pattern by marital status demonstrated larger increases for married women than for unmarried women.

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