Breastfeeding Medicine

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Eliminating Disparities in Breastfeeding and Infant Mortality: Conference 2018

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Eliminating Disparities

Although breastfeeding rates are increasing in the US, significant disparities in breastfeeding and infant mortality persist.  Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and partners were delighted to host the “Third Annual Conference to Eliminate Disparities in Breastfeeding and Infant Mortality:  Taking Action for Equity” as a pre-Conference to the Ohio Infant Mortality Summit at the Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Our Keynote speaker was the inspiring Dr. Camara Jones from Morehouse School of Medicine, who helped us critically examine how racism must be acknowledged and addressed to make inroads toward health equity.

Our First Annual Conference with Keynote speaker, Dr. Michal Young, helped us to define the problem of breastfeeding disparities and infant mortality.  The Second Annual Conference featured Keynote speaker, Dr. Kimarie Bugg, who took us deeper by addressing the role of Implicit Bias.  Our participants provided feedback, requesting to leave the next conference with Action Tools to make changes in their own communities to eliminate disparities so this year we are “Taking Action for Equity”.

To that end, our Conference this year began with an inspiring opening from City of Cincinnati Health Commissioner, Melba Moore, who challenged everyone to develop novel ways to improve community health.  From there, the conference highlighted the successful efforts of 42 speakers from around the State of Ohio and beyond, representing these programs:  CenteringPregnancy, the State of Ohio efforts to improve breastfeeding (Ohio First Steps, WIC, Ohio Department of Health), Hospital Quality Improvement, the importance of Fathers, and the amazing work of Doulas.  These programs provided the first set of Key Highlights to nearly 400 health care providers, community members, and parents, who then were able to “go deeper” in workshop formats, along with an option to learn the basics of “Breastfeeding 101.”  After lunch, attendees rejoined for a second set of Key Highlights, with representatives from Home Visitation programs, Mom-to-Mom Support groups (, Rural and Appalachian breastfeeding groups and Breastfeeding while Going back to Work.  These presenters also provided a deeper dive with workshop sessions, and the option for a “Breastfeeding 911” course to help front-line providers and support people troubleshoot common problems.  Each workshop provided a take home “toolkit” for attendees.

In addition to many local Cincinnati area efforts to eliminate disparities in breastfeeding, we were delighted to have experts from Cleveland, Columbus and beyond share their expertise with us.  The Doula segment was especially exciting  as co-presenter, Jessica Roach from ROOTT (Restoring Our Own Through Transformation) arrived to the conference JUST as her bio was being read, (coming, of course, from a delivery, directly to the stage!), as well as Christin Farmer, at Birthing Beautiful Communities in Cleveland who brought her “Dude-la”, Neal Hodges!  We learned about ROBE (Reaching Our Brothers Everywhere) from our local Wisdom Council Member, Calvin Williams, and Founder, Wesley Bugg, Esq., the CenteringPregnancy program in Cleveland , and so many more Ohio highlights!

Dr. Lori Winter and Dr. Julia Ware

Dr. Lori Winter and Dr. Julia Ware

Conference Commissioner Moore, Camille Graham, Corinn Taylor, Karen Bankston

Commissioner, Melba Moore, Dr. Camille Graham, Dr. Corinn Taylor, Dr. Karen Bankston

Dr. Camara Jones and Jamaica Gilliam

Dr. Camara Jones and Jamaica Gilliam

Dr. Camara Jones took us through an intensive discussion of the multiple dimensions through which racism drives health disparities using her powerful 3-dimensional cliff analogy highlighting differences in: the quality of care received within the healthcare system, access to healthcare and preventive services, and life opportunities, exposures, and stresses that result in differences in underlying health conditions.

She defines racism as “a system of structuring opportunity and assigning value based upon the social interpretation of how one looks. Racism is a system that:

  1. Unfairly disadvantages some individuals and communities
  2. Unfairly advantages other individuals and communities
  3. Saps the strength of the whole society through the waste of human resources.

Racism has created inequities in our country. Dr. Jones helped us to see that the barriers to health equity include the narrow focus on the individual (“I am not racist, so these facts don’t apply to me or how I treat my patients!”); the fact that we are an “A-historical” culture that is disconnected from and fails to acknowledge our recent past (“Slavery ended more than a hundred and fifty years ago – why can’t you get over it?”; we don’t recognize the underlying structural system of inequity and privilege that is at the foundation of health disparities (“Why is it that a mom’s zip code is more likely to predict birth outcomes, infant survival, and breastfeeding success than her access to health care?”); and that we are instead overly focused on the myth of meritocracy – an example – two babies – equal opportunity or equal potential? (“They just aren’t trying hard enough – they could breast feed if they really wanted to!”)

Some key takeaways from Dr. Jones:

  1. When you feel uncomfortable, “LEAN IN”
  2. To achieve health equity we need to:
    1. Value all individuals and population equally
    2. Recognize and rectify historical injustices
    3. Provide resources according to need
  3. You can learn more about Dr. Jones’ Cliff Analogy in this 5 minute video by the Urban Institute.

An added treat to the Conference was an optional learning lunch with new AAP Section on Breastfeeding Chair, Dr. Lori Feldman-Winter, who was giving a talk on Safe Sleep and Breastfeeding at a Safe Sleep Summit occurring simultaneously to our Conference!  Over 130 of our participants were able to join this event, and enjoyed the review of the evidence and guidelines for safe sleep and breastfeeding from the AAP lens.

One of the most exciting aspects of the Conference is still to come.  We will harness the energy generated from the diverse Conference presenters and attendees to continue improving breastfeeding rates in marginalized populations. It is clear that we have a wealth of talent and will need to use many different strategies to achieve this goal. Our participants are filling out a “Call to Action” survey as part of their Conference evaluation, so that we can continue to connect and collaborate in areas of interest to eliminate disparities through learning communities across the state. Stay tuned for More to Come!

Pre- and post-conference video clips:

Shared Safe Sleep and Breastfeeding Posters (unbranded) from Ohio First Steps:

Cincinnati Children’s Conference Co-Chairs:

Julie Ware, MD, MPH, FABM and ABM Board Member

Laura Ward, MD, ABM Member

Camille Graham, MD, Executive Community Leader


For more information, please contact Dr. Julie Ware,

Blog posts reflect the opinions of individual authors, not ABM as a whole.

Written by julieware2

April 16, 2019 at 11:42 am

ABM Member Profile: Featuring Rima L. Strassman, MD, FABM

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ABM: What is ABM‘s greatest strength? 

Strassman: ABM‘s strength is its network of support and knowledge in the area of breastfeeding medicine.

ABM: What inspires you to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding?

Strassman: The satisfaction I get from helping mothers accomplish their goals in parenting their infants and making breastfeeding a part of that. ABM helps me do this by sharing knowledge and offering support from peers doing the same thing.

ABM: What advice can you offer to physicians who are interested in learning more about breastfeeding?

Strassman: Attend ABM meetings including the WEPNTK pre-conference course, look for other lactation/breastfeeding conferences, and read the ABM listserv.

ABM: What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career?

Strassman: This is a tough question to answer, but I suppose becoming a Fellow of ABM and being acknowledged by people I admire within the organization as someone who deserved that honor.

ABM: What is a current challenge for you in your work?

Strassman: Finding time to do as much as I would like to assist nursing mom and baby dyads while still attending to the practice of general pediatrics and meeting the needs of these patients as well as those with nursing issues and questions.

ABM: What can ABM offer physicians worldwide?

Strassman: ABM can offer physicians the knowledge needed to support breastfeeding as well as support and networking for those who already have the knowledge.

Thank you, Dr. Strassman. We look forward to featuring additional Lifetime and Gold Members on the ABM Blog each month.

Don’t forget to register for the 17th Annual International Meeting to be held October 11-14, 2012 in Chicago. Early-bird rates end August 15.

Written by bfmed

July 27, 2012 at 12:13 pm

ABM Member Profile: Featuring Susan Landers, MD, FABM

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ABM: Why did you become a member of ABM?

Landers: I joined to get involved with other experts in breastfeeding.

ABM: What is ABM‘s greatest strength?

Landers: ABM‘s strengths are its multidisciplinary nature (Obstetrics, Family Practice, Surgery, etc.) and international members.

ABM: What advice can you offer to physicians who are interested in learning more about breastfeeding?

Landers: Take a basic skills course (6-8 hours), work with an IBCLC in your practice, volunteer on your hospital breastfeeding committee, ask your hospital to track the perinatal care core measures (especially exclusive breastfeeding at hospital discharge).

ABM: What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career?

Landers: I am most proud of becoming an ABM Fellow (FABM) and being elected to a position on the AAP’s Section on Breastfeeding Executive Committee.

ABM: What is a current challenge for you in your work?

Landers: Dealing with entrenched hospital-based maternity care practices that undermine breastfeeding.

ABM: What can ABM offer physicians worldwide?

Landers: ABM can offer physicians protocols and guidelines in breastfeeding medicine.

Thank you, Dr. Landers.  We look forward to featuring additional Lifetime and Gold Members on the ABM Blog each week.

Don’t forget to submit your abstract for the 17th Annual International Meeting to be held October 11-14, 2012 in Chicago.  The deadline is June 20.

Written by bfmed

June 13, 2012 at 11:30 am