Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Breastfeeding Continuation Among U.S. Hispanic Mothers: Identification of Mechanisms

Cara B. Safon, Timothy Heeren, Stephen Kerr, Michael Corwin, Eve R. Colson, Rachel Moon, Ann Kellams, Fern R. Hauck, Margaret G. Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: We examined the extent to which social, maternal, and infant factors and Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) domains - attitudes, perceived control, and subjective norms - mediate the relationship between maternal race and ethnicity and birth country, and breastfeeding continuation. Materials and Methods: A nationally representative cohort of 2,810 mothers with self-reported race, ethnicity, and birth country was used. Main outcomes included any and exclusive breastfeeding at 2-6 months of infant age. A conceptual framework with the aforementioned mediators of interest was developed. Logistic regression was used to examine main associations, and structural equation modeling was used to identify the extent to which proposed mediators explained the relationship between independent and dependent variables. Results: One thousand two hundred twenty-one mothers were U.S.-born non-Hispanic white (NHW), 432 U.S.-born Hispanic, 329 Mexico-born Hispanic, 107 Central- or South America-born Hispanic, 33 Caribbean-born Hispanic, and 688 U.S.-born non-Hispanic black (NHB). No differences in breastfeeding continuation among U.S.-born NHW and U.S.-born Hispanic mothers were found. In contrast, compared with U.S.-born NHW mothers, Mexico-born (odds ratio [OR] 1.99, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.46-2.72) and Central- or South America-born (OR 3.42, 95% CI 1.89-6.17) Hispanic mothers had higher odds, and Caribbean-born Hispanic mothers had lower odds (OR 0.45, 95% CI 0.26-0.76) of any breastfeeding. These relationships were mediated by attitudes and subjective norms. Conclusions: Breastfeeding continuation among U.S. Hispanic mothers varied by birth country, highlighting the heterogeneity of breastfeeding populations of Hispanic mothers in the United States. Tailored interventions should strengthen policies supportive of positive attitudes toward and subjective norms around breastfeeding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-13
Number of pages11
JournalBreastfeeding Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023


  • Hispanic mothers
  • breastfeeding continuation
  • ethnic disparities
  • health equity


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