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Hopkins Nurse Granted $2M To Determine Cost Effectiveness Of Breastfeeding Promotion


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Posted: 2/28/2003

Linda C. Pugh, PhD, RNC, associate professor and director of the baccalaureate program at The Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, received a $2 million grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research to determine the net cost savings of providing breastfeeding support to low-income mothers.

Professional and national health organizations recommend that women breastfeed exclusively for the first six months. While rates of adherence are generally low, disparities exist across socioeconomic lines. Only 20 percent of low-income women breastfeed for six months, compared to almost 41 percent of more affluent women.”

“Promoting breastfeeding by all women is a goal, but to reduce these disparities, increasing breastfeeding among low-income women should be a priority,” says Dr. Pugh, principal investigator of the study.

Dr. Pugh says nearly 35 percent of low-income women stop breastfeeding within eight days of delivery. Previous research by Dr. Pugh concluded that consistent, comprehensive, and culturally sensitive support from a nurse and community health worker can increase breastfeeding duration in low-income women. According to Dr. Pugh, however, support for low-income women has been neglected by health care providers and information not made available because of generally unsubstantiated claims that it is not cost effective.

“What we have is a realistic strategy to increase breastfeeding among low-income women, who usually lack the resources to get support in the community,” says Dr. Pugh. “Breastfeeding results in savings from the costs of infant formula and lower health care costs, and it may be less time consuming. These savings have the potential to offset the costs of breastfeeding promotion.”

To determine the actual net cost savings of improved breastfeeding duration, the four-year study will compare a group of mothers receiving standard care with a group receiving in-hospital lactation support, telephone support, and home visits from a nurse or community health worker.
Additional members of the multidisciplinary team include co-principal investigators Kevin Frick, PhD, associate professor of health policy and management at The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Janet Serwint, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

For media inquiries contact Ming Tai at [email protected] or 410-614-5317.