Nav: Home

Study shows Texas leads in worksite lactation support initiatives

September 18, 2019

Texas is ranked in the top quarter of the U.S. for its worksite lactation support initiatives, according to research led by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health. The study, published recently in the Journal of Human Lactation, was the first of its kind to identify and describe statewide worksite breastfeeding initiatives. These initiatives recognize employers in the state that support their breastfeeding employees.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants be exclusively fed breast milk for the first six months following birth. The study notes that, although there are various reasons why a mother discontinues breastfeeding, an unsupportive work environment is an often-reported obstacle.

"Many women would like to continue breastfeeding after they return to work, but it isn't always easy. By providing flexibility in scheduling and a private place to express breast milk, an employer can help a woman to meet her personal breastfeeding goals. We knew that Texas has had an initiative to recognize supportive employers for several decades, and we were interested to learn if other states had similar initiatives," said the study's senior author Courtney Byrd-Williams, PhD, an assistant professor in the Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living at UTHealth School of Public Health.

The health benefits of breastfeeding can include decreased rates of breast and ovarian cancer, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes for mothers, as well as decreased rates of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, asthma, and overweight/obesity for infants.

Despite the numerous health benefits for both mother and baby associated with breastfeeding, only 26 states were identified as having any form of worksite lactation support initiatives. Texas is in an elite group of 12 states recognized as having enhanced levels of recognition for employers with more comprehensive lactation support programs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ensuring women receive worksite breastfeeding support is crucial as they return to work. Healthy People 2020, a decade-long agenda for improving the nation's health, includes a goal of increasing the number of employers that offer these programs.

Texas has long been a leader in supporting women who choose to breastfeed. The Texas Legislature passed Health and Safety Code 165 in 1995, asserting a mother's right to breastfeed anywhere she is authorized to be, as well as establishing the Mother-Friendly Worksite designation. Mother-Friendly Worksites are businesses and employers that have policies in place to proactively support employees who choose to breastfeed their infants.

Research was conducted by interviewing participants designated as breastfeeding experts from all 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C. Experts in states with a recognized initiative were asked to provide information regarding its background, structure, and requirements.

Initiatives were evaluated on eight minimum specified requirements, including a private space to express milk, flexible work schedule, written policy, verbal agreement, sink access, communication of provisions to employees, breastfeeding support resources, and a space to store breast milk.

The authors noted that though this study is the first of its kind, future research should help determine the best practices of statewide initiatives to help increase breastfeeding rates.
Funding for this research was underwritten by the Texas Department of State Health Services in collaboration with the Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, UTHealth School of Public Health.

Co-authors on the study included Amanda Reat, PhD; Krystin J. Matthews, MPH; Alma E. Carver, MSc; Cristell A. Perez, MPH; and Julie Stagg, MSN, RN.

University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Related Public Health Articles:

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.
The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.
The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.
BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.
The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.
Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.
Bloomberg American Health Initiative releases special public health reports supplement
With US life expectancy now on the decline for two consecutive years, the Bloomberg American Health Initiative is releasing a supplement to Public Health Reports, the scholarly journal of the US Surgeon General.
Data does the heavy lifting: Encouraging new public health approaches to promote the health benefits of muscle-strengthening exercise (MSE)
According to a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, almost 75 percent of US adults do not comply with public health guidelines recommending two or more muscle-strengthening exercise (MSE) sessions a week, with nearly 60 percent of the population doing no MSE at all.
The Lancet Public Health: Moderate carbohydrate intake may be best for health
Low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with proteins and fats from plant sources associated with lower risk of mortality compared to those that replace carbohydrates with proteins and fat from animal sources.
Mass. public safety, public health agencies collaborate to address the opioid epidemic
A new study shows that public health and public safety agencies established local, collaborative programs in Massachusetts to connect overdose survivors and their personal networks with addiction treatment, harm reduction, and other community support services following a non-fatal overdose.
More Public Health News and Public Health Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at