Breastfeeding and social media

Date: Nov 02 2015

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Mothers with low milk supply breastfeed longer when using social media, Internet for advice

Chicago — The Internet has helped mothers with low milk supply continue breastfeeding — and has been a prominent driver of their health care experiences — according to new research released today at the American Public Health Association’s 143rd Annual Meeting in Chicago.

Researchers found from a large online questionnaire that mothers with low milk supply who sought information about increasing their milk output from the Internet or social media platforms were 10 percent more likely to breastfeed at two months than mothers who did not. The former were also more likely to breastfeed at four and six months.

Additionally, the Internet was a vital resource for most mothers with low milk supply. While in-person practitioners — such as lactation consultants and nurses — were the most-common first resources for mothers when they needed breastfeeding help, 86.7 percent of mothers used the Internet for information as a subsequent resource.

 “Our national Healthy People goals include extending the length of time infants are breastfed for,” said Diana Cassar-Uhl, MPH, IBCLC, lead researcher of the study. “In a population at risk for early, unintended weaning, interactive online peer-to-peer information sharing may provide an intervention that can lengthen breastfeeding duration.”

Data also showed that more than 75 percent of respondents who reported using mother-to-mother shared milk were able to gain access from family, friends or their local communities. Less than half found shared milk from an online milk-sharing platform, while just over 33 percent found shared milk through social media.

“This study comes from a larger mixed-methods investigation of mothers who intended to exclusively breastfeed, but believed they did not have enough milk to do so,” Cassar-Uhl said. “Because this particular population is at higher risk for early cessation of breastfeeding, we were interested in whether or not specific behaviors — in this case, social media information-seeking for increasing milk supply — were associated with breastfeeding duration.”

APHA’s 143rd Annual Meeting is themed “Health in All Policies” and will focus on how public health agencies and organizations can work with those who are best positioned to create policies and practices that promote healthy communities and environments.

Session 3166.0: Emerging trends in breastfeeding practice: improving lactation care through partnerships and technology

Date: Monday, Nov. 2, 2015

Researchers: Diana Cassar-Uhl, MPH, IBCLC, Family Science/Maternal and Child Health, University of Maryland School of Public Health, College Park, Maryland

Penny Liberatos, PhD, School of Health Sciences & Practice, New York Medical College, Valhalla, New York

Information for media: The APHA Annual Meeting Press Office will be located in W475B of the McCormick Place convention center.

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The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We strengthen the public health profession. We speak out for public health issues and policies backed by science. We are the only organization that influences federal policy, has a 140-plus year perspective and brings together members from all fields of public health. Visit www.apha.org.