Across Michigan, black infants are three times more likely to die than white infants before their first birthday. In Washtenaw County, the incidence is over four times more likely. Among Washtenaw County WIC clients, 76 percent of black and African American women start breastfeeding, compared to 81 percent of white women.
“Breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed a baby,” says Gayathri Akella, WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) Service Coordinator at the Washtenaw County Health Department. Breastfeeding strengthens babies’ immune systems, guards them against obesity and diabetes and forges a strong bond with their mom, among many other benefits. A breastfeeding support group for black mothers was created by Washtenaw County WIC last year with the goal of lowering the racial disparity in breastfeeding rates. During the first year of the support group, the rate of black mothers in WIC who continue to breastfeed their infants at four to eight weeks has increased from 32 percent to 48 percent – similar to the 50 percent rate for white women with four to eight week infants. The black mothers’ breastfeeding support group meets four times a year. The next meeting will be October 30.
Follow Washtenaw County WIC Breastfeeding Support on Facebook or call Washtenaw County WIC at 734-544-6800 for more information.