Centuries-Old Caricature Drives Divide in Breastfeeding Rates — NOVA Next

Despite decades of “breast is best” efforts, there remains a disconcerting divide in breastfeeding rates in America. National data show that only about 60% of African-American women breastfeed, compared with 80% of white and Hispanic women. In some states, namely in the South and Midwest, the gap is even wider.

A researcher in North Carolina may have recently uncovered a centuries-old source to the entrenched disparity—one with ugly origins.

Breastfeeding rates among African-American women are significantly lower than among white and Hispanic women.

For over 20 years, as a nurse and certified midwife, Stephanie Devane-Johnson delivered babies for women of all racial and ethnic backgrounds in the South. During this time, she found that when the topic turned to how her patients…

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