Geographic Access to International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants in Pennsylvania

Published in: Journal of Human Lactation (2018).  doi: 10.1177/0890334418768458

Posted on RAND.org on August 24, 2018

by Kristin Ray, Jill R. Demirci, Lori Uscher-Pines, Debra L. Bogen

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Background

Availability of professional lactation support has been associated with increased breastfeeding rates; however, data about access to international board-certified lactation consultants are limited.

Research Aims

The aims were (a) to assess geographic access to international board-certified lactation consultants in Pennsylvania, (b) to compare access in rural/urban counties, and (c) to compare access by county-level breastfeeding initiation rates.

Methods

Using geographic information systems methodology and a cross-sectional observational design, we calculated the proportion of young children living within 15, 30, and 60 miles of international board-certified lactation consultants in Pennsylvania. We calculated these proportions for all children in Pennsylvania, for children in urban and rural counties, and for children in counties with low, medium, and high breastfeeding initiation rates. Comparisons were done to answer the research aims.

Results

Over 90% of young children live within 30 miles of an international board-certified lactation consultant. Compared to children in urban counties, fewer children in rural counties live within 15 and 30 miles of these providers. In counties with high breastfeeding initiation rates, a larger percentage of children live within 15 miles of an international board-certified lactation consultant than in counties with low breastfeeding initiation rates.

Conclusion

While most Pennsylvania children live in proximity of an international board-certified lactation consultant, this was true for a lower percentage of children in rural counties and in counties with lower breastfeeding rates.

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