Feasibility and Effectiveness of Telelactation Among Rural Breastfeeding Women

Published in: Academic Pediatrics, Volume 20, Issue 5, pages 652–659 (July 2020). doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2019.10.008

Posted on RAND.org on November 13, 2020

by Lori Uscher-Pines, Bonnie Ghosh-Dastidar, Debra L. Bogen, Kristin Ray, Jill R. Demirci, Ateev Mehrotra, Kandice A. Kapinos

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Objective

To evaluate the feasibility and impact of telelactation via personal electronic devices on breastfeeding duration and exclusivity among rural women.

Methods

The Tele-MILC trial, a pragmatic, parallel design trial, recruited 203 women during their postpartum hospitalization in a critical access hospital in Pennsylvania and randomized them to receive telelactation (n = 102) or usual care (n = 101). We used intent-to-treat (ITT) and instrumental variable (IV) approaches to analyze study data for the 187 participants who completed follow-up. The primary outcomes were any breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding at 12 weeks postpartum.

Results

Among participants in the telelactation arm, 50% (47/94) reported participating in video calls. At 12 weeks, 71% of participants in the telelactation arm versus 68% of control participants were breastfeeding in the ITT model (3% difference, P = .73), whereas 73% of participants in the telelactation arm versus 68% of control participants were breastfeeding in the IV model (5% difference, P = .74). Among participants who were still breastfeeding at 12 weeks, 51% participants in the telelactation arm were breastfeeding exclusively versus 46% of control participants in the ITT model (5% difference, P = .47), whereas 56% of participants in the telelactation arm were breastfeeding exclusively versus 45% of control participants in the IV model (11% difference, P = .48). In all models, participants in the telelactation arm were breastfeeding at higher rates; however, differences were not statistically significant.

Conclusions

This trial demonstrated that telelactation can be implemented with a rural underserved population. Though this trial was not powered to detect differences in breastfeeding duration and exclusivity, and none were observed, telelactation remains a promising approach for further investigation.

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