Jane Grassley, professor and Joanna “Jody” DeMeyer Endowed Chair for the School of Nursing, received the Institute of Translational Health Sciences (ITHS) Academics/Community Partnership Award for her project, “A Partnership with Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to Prepare Mothers During Pregnancy to Breastfeed a Late Preterm or Early Term Infant.” Grassley was awarded $20,000 for this project.
The ITHS Academics/Community Partnership Award is used to encourage the development and support of collaborations between academic and community investigators. Projects awarded should investigate a community-based health problem, disseminate evidence-based health innovations into practice, target health promotion/prevention, or examine ways to enhance or implement sustainable health programs in community settings.
Grassley’s project, in collaboration with WIC, is a study to help prevent challenges that mothers face breastfeeding late preterm or early term infants. Preterm infants, those who are born up to three weeks early (34 to 36 weeks), must receive more immediate care and attention in the process of breastfeeding. Mothers who have just given birth to infants born early are unprepared for the challenges that are associated with breastfeeding these infants.
In an attempt to prevent those challenges, Grassley and WIC explored how educating mothers during pregnancy about breastfeeding preterm infants affects breastfeeding outcomes. Together, they designed an online resource of guidance for mothers using input from community partners and other mothers; they explored relationships between online guidance engagement, maternal anxiety, breastfeeding rates, and hospital readmissions; and they revised the online resource using feedback given by participants and WIC peer counselors.
The project’s objective is not only to prevent challenges but to invest in the future of health for the vulnerable preterm infants by providing a strategy that improves breastfeeding rates for these infants. By improving these breastfeeding rates, it could improve infant health now and in the future and lower costs to the healthcare system by decreasing hospital readmission.