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UC co-sponsors conference addressing racial disparities in breastfeeding

UC co-sponsors conference addressing racial disparities in breastfeeding

Published: 11/28/2018

"Taking Action for Equity” is the theme of the third annual Conference to Eliminate Racial Disparities in Breastfeeding and Infant Mortality on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018, sponsored in part by the University of Cincinnati (UC) and Cincinnati Children’s. The conference will be held at the Duke Energy Convention Center in downtown Cincinnati from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The inaugural event in 2016 attracted over 160 health care professionals and sold out quickly. The second event in 2017 was moved to Tangeman University Center and sold out with 200 registrants. In anticipation of larger attendance this year, the event was moved to the convention center. 

"The increasing interest in the conference indicates that many health care providers in our community are aware that we have disparities in breastfeeding practices and infant mortality rates, and they desire to address these disparities,” says Laurie Nommsen-Rivers, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at UC in the College of Allied Health Sciences and co-chair of the conference. "This conference will unpack concepts such as bias in access to breastfeeding encouragement, culturally tailored breastfeeding support, high-quality clinical care and other barriers that stand in the way of African-American mothers feeling fully supported in reaching their breastfeeding goals.”

"Breastfeeding provides infants with the best possible start in life,” says Julie Ware, MD, a pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s in the Center for Breastfeeding Medicine and co-chair of the conference. "Although the initiation of breastfeeding has now reached beyond the Healthy People 2020 goals of 81.9 percent in the United States, there remains a large disparity in breastfeeding among African-American women.”

In Cincinnati, differences in breastfeeding across demographics are profound, according to Ware, with 78 percent of white mothers initiating breastfeeding compared to 63 percent of black mothers. She also says neighborhood differences in initiation of breastfeeding are as high as 50 percent.

"Health disparities, such as infant mortality, can be ameliorated when babies are breastfed,” says Ware. "Breastfeeding is now described as a public health imperative. We have to do all we can to support all women to breastfeed their babies.”

The morning session of the conference features workshops on prenatal and hospital programs, while the afternoon session features workshops on postpartum and beyond with a variety of discussion topics including breastfeeding and going back to work, improving support for breastfeeding with home visits, how mom-to-mom support can help with breastfeeding success and breastfeeding success in a formula feeding culture.  

The final event on the schedule is the keynote address from Camara Jones, MD, PhD, past president of the American Public Health Association and senior fellow at Morehouse School of Medicine’s Satcher Health Leadership institute. Her address is "Eliminating Disparities in Breastfeeding and Infant Mortality by Achieving Health Equity.”

Registration fees for community members, parents and students is $20. For health professionals, the cost is $50 through Dec. 1, 2018 and after that date the fee is $70.

To register or for more information on the conference, click here or contact Kathy Hill at kathy.hill@cchmc.org.

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