HealthDay News — Women in states with paid family leave (PFL) policies have a modestly greater likelihood of exclusively breastfeeding at six months, according to a study published online Oct. 25 in the American Journal of Public Health.
Rita Hamad, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues conducted difference-in-differences analyses comparing post-PFL-policy changes in California and New Jersey to changes in states where no PFL policies were implemented. Data were included for a diverse sample of 306,266 children born during 2001 to 2013.
The researchers found that the likelihood of exclusively breastfeeding at six months was modestly greater as a result of PFL policies. Subgroup analyses were mixed; there was consistent improvement in several breastfeeding outcomes among married, white, higher-income, and older mothers.
“Our findings suggest that the policies worked in favor of higher-income working women,” Hamad said in a statement. “The benefits offered in California and New Jersey may not be enough to help low-income women who can’t afford any lost wages. It would be interesting to see whether the fully paid leave benefits recently adopted by the city of San Francisco and some companies — especially tech companies — do a better job of supporting low-income parents.”