Do State-Level Breastfeeding Policies Promote Breastfeeding?

Summer D. S. Hawkins, Harvard School of Public Health
Matthew Gillman, Harvard Medical School

Despite many states recently passing breastfeeding policies, little is known about whether they increase breastfeeding. We examined the impact of state-level policies on disparities in breastfeeding initiation and duration through differences-in-differences models utilizing repeated cross-sections of the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System from 2000-2008 for 31 states (N=326,263 mothers). For each mother we coded the presence of two state-level breastfeeding policies during pregnancy. On questionnaires, mothers self-reported whether they ever breastfed and, if so, continued to 4 weeks. Breastfeeding initiation was 1.7 percentage points higher in states with new laws that provided break time and private space for breastfeeding employees, particularly among Hispanic mothers (adjusted coefficient 0.058). While there was no overall effect of laws permitting mothers to breastfeed in any location, among Black participants we observed increases in breastfeeding initiation (adjusted coefficient 0.056) and duration (adjusted coefficient 0.044). State-level policies appear to increase breastfeeding and may help reduce disparities.

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Presented in Poster Session 6