World Breastfeeding Week: Diabetes and Breastfeeding Inequality

Here at Diabetes Education Services, we are excited to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week!

Breastfeeding reduces the risk of future diabetes for mom and baby alike. Studies show that mothers who nursed babies for at least six months were 48 percent less likely to develop diabetes. Yet many mothers, who want to breastfeed, aren’t able to due to a variety of obstacles.

There are myriad benefits to breastfeeding, a fact that’s well-endorsed by upcoming World Breastfeeding Week. This event, which is sponsored by the World Alliance For Breastfeeding Action, focuses on promoting, protecting, and supporting breastfeeding around the globe.

“There could be greater health benefits for women from breastfeeding than previously recognized,” said lead study author Erica Gunderson of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California.

Breastfeeding Inequalities

Each year, a new adjacent cause is championed; this year, the climate impact of formula feeding is central to the week-long event. Wisely, the organization makes a point to reflect on breastfeeding inequality as a series of obstacles that must be overcome in order to truly reap the ecological benefits of making this switch.

Below is an infographic that describes the critical issues surrounding breastfeeding inequalities that bring to light an often under-discussed issue. Blog also continues below.

Breastfeeding inequality refers to the disparity in breastfeeding rates that can be observed in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas. Even in developed countries like the United States, demographic areas that fall beneath the poverty line often reveal dismal statistics when it comes to breastfeeding. This visualization breaks down the impact of income, education, and other lifestyle factors on breastfeeding inequality:

For those who’ve simply been watching moms go back and forth online about choosing breast or bottle, learning that some mothers are at a legitimate disadvantage when it comes to breastfeeding can be shocking. Factors like income and partner support play a direct role in the home, but there are other reasons why breastfeeding rates in economically disadvantaged areas are low.

  • Low-income, high-stress jobs may offer fewer breaks to pump, no breaks at all, or have a lack of private space in which to do so
  • These same jobs are far less likely to offer any kind of paid maternity leave, which often means mom is back to work within weeks of birth
  • Hospitals in lower-income areas may not be staffed enough to offer much postpartum support or a lactation consultant
  • Mothers may be less connected with their family members and community, and may not be getting positive feedback and support regarding breastfeeding from other mothers in the community

Optimum nourishment at no cost, improved parental bonds, and the possible prevention of future allergies, asthma, obesity, and type 2 diabetes are but a few of the reasons that breastfeeding equality is essential for all families. Though the fight is hard-fought, the health of a generation is a goal worth uniting for.

Written by Guest Writer, Neve Spicer, Founder & Director at


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