Mothers Who Breastfeed Should Receive Cash? Study Reveals Incentive Might Encourage Moms To Maintain Breastfeeding

By Amanda Moore, Parent Herald February 08, 04:00 am

The challenge of breastfeeding might become more appealing to mothers if they are given a cash incentive. A small experiment in a new study suggests that giving moms money might encourage them to maintain breastfeeding for up to six months.

The study was conducted among 36 Puerto Rican mothers currently living in Philadelphia who are also enlisted in The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. One-half of the experimental group received a maximum of $270 for the study's duration, while another group received other incentives irregularly in the form of gifts, vouchers and personal items but no cash.

The group receiving cash incentives were also asked to undergo a routine objective measurement of breastfeeding success. The other group, on the other hand, were asked to self-report their progress.

The researchers, whose study was published in the Pediatrics journal, compared the outcomes of both groups. Of those who received cash, at least 72 percent kept breastfeeding their babies for six months but the rest of the moms failed to sustain this.

In the first month of the study, 89 percent of moms who received cash kept breastfeeding and 44 percent of mothers who had no cash incentives stopped. By the third month, the same percentage was sustained for breastfeeding mothers who received cash and those who didn't get money dropped further to 17 percent.

"Although the study sample was very small, the study provides an insight on a potential way to motivate mothers to continue breastfeeding," lead study author Dr. Yukiko Washio said, according to Yahoo. "It has been challenging to help mothers maintain breastfeeding especially among those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged and belong to racial or ethnic groups who do not commonly promote breastfeeding among their members," Washio added.

Many of the moms, however, did not exclusively breastfeed as they also supplemented with formula milk. The study also posed some concerns, according to Dr. Lydia Furman, as the moms might have been inclined to breastfeed for money even as this wasn't the choice they wanted. The study authors acknowledged the limited scope of the experiment.

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