BCHS student Chinwoke Isiguzo, won first place among doctoral students for the project, “Effects of discrimination and microaggressions on exclusive breastfeeding: the role of stress”.
Dean’s Day is an annual student research competition. Students present their research during multiple poster sessions while faculty members judge presentations for prizes and students evaluate posters for Grand Rounds credit.
Visit publichealth.pitt.edu/deansday to learn more about the competition and see a full list of winners.
Background: Despite the well-documented benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, many childbearing people wean their infants before the recommended six months. Black childbearing people exclusively breastfeed for a shorter time than people of other racial and ethnic groups. The reasons for these continued breastfeeding disparities are unclear; therefore, it is crucial to examine how discrimination contribute to this disparity.
Methods: Longitudinal Information on exclusive breastfeeding was collected from 251 participants in the Postpartum Mobile Mother’s Study using Ecological Momentary Assessment. Participants answered questions on exclusive breastfeeding at the end of each day and questions on racial and gender discrimination and microaggressions at random times in the day when prompted. We conducted a generalized structural equation modeling to test the hypothesized pathway through which racial and gender discrimination and microaggression would directly or indirectly influence exclusive breastfeeding through perceived stress.
Results: Black educated and Black unemployed participants in our study compared to White uneducated (𝞫=2.00 P<0.001) and White unemployed participants (𝞫=1.12 P=0.041) were more likely to experience microaggressions. Perceived stress mediated the relationship between microaggression and exclusive breastfeeding such that microaggressions increased stress (𝞫=2.02 P<0.001), which in turn reduced the likelihood of exclusive breastfeeding (𝞫=-0.14 P<0.001). Racial discrimination, microaggression, and gender discrimination had no significant direct effects on exclusive breastfeeding. Among the three forms of discrimination examined, only microaggressions had an indirect effect on exclusive breastfeeding.
Conclusion: Public health leaders must recognize and act on the negative effect of microaggressions on Black childbearing people who also may be experiencing additional stress from pregnancy and postpartum periods.