Impact of Telelactation Services on Breastfeeding Outcomes Among Black and Latinx Parents
Protocol for the Tele-MILC Randomized Controlled Trial
Published in: Trials, Volume 23, Article number 5 (2022). doi: 10.1186/s13063-021-05846-w
Posted on RAND.org on March 04, 2022
Breastfeeding offers many medical and neurodevelopmental advantages for birthing parents and infants; however, the majority of parents stop breastfeeding before it is recommended. Professional lactation support by the International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) increases breastfeeding rates; however, many communities lack access to IBCLCs. Black and Latinx parents have lower breastfeeding rates, and limited access to professional lactation support may contribute to this disparity. Virtual "telelactation" consults that use two-way video have the potential to increase access to IBCLCs among disadvantaged populations. We present a protocol for the digital Tele-MILC trial, which uses mixed methods to evaluate the impact of telelactation services on breastfeeding outcomes. The objective of this pragmatic, parallel design randomized controlled trial is to assess the impact of telelactation on breastfeeding duration and exclusivity and explore how acceptability of and experiences with telelactation vary across Latinx, Black, and non-Black and non-Latinx parents to guide future improvement of these services.
2400 primiparous, pregnant individuals age > 18 who intend to breastfeed and live in the USA underserved by IBCLCs will be recruited. Recruitment will occur via Ovia, a pregnancy tracker mobile phone application (app) used by over one million pregnant individuals in the USA annually. Participants will be randomized to (1) on-demand telelactation video calls on personal devices or (2) ebook on infant care/usual care. Breastfeeding outcomes will be captured via surveys and interviews and compared across racial and ethnic groups. This study will track participants for 8 months (including 6 months postpartum). Primary outcomes include breastfeeding duration and breastfeeding exclusivity. We will quantify differences in these outcomes across racial and ethnic groups. Both intention-to-treat and as-treated (using instrumental variable methods) analyses will be performed. This study will also generate qualitative data on the experiences of different subgroups of parents with the telelactation intervention, including barriers to use, satisfaction, and strengths and limitations of this delivery model.
This is the first randomized study evaluating the impact of telelactation on breastfeeding outcomes. It will inform the design and implementation of future digital trials among pregnant and postpartum people, including Black and Latinx populations which are historically underrepresented in clinical trials.