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JCSU first HBCU to offer Lactation Consultant Training Program addressing Black breastfeeding crisis

CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 9, 2019 – North Carolina has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country, with Black infants dying at a rate more than twice that of Non-Hispanic White infants. While it is proven that breastfeeding is protective against infant mortality, the Black population has the lowest rates of breastfeeding duration. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 62% of Black infants born in the US in 2010 initiated breastfeeding, compared to 79% of White infants. After six months, only 36% continued to breastfeed, compared to 52% of White infants.

JCSU’s Metropolitan College of Professional Studies hopes to help address these critical issues with its newest offering: Lactation Consultant Training Program. The goal of the program is to increase the number of International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs)of color. An IBCLC is a healthcare professional who specializes in the clinical management of breastfeeding. In North Carolina, it is estimated that less than five percent of the IBCLCs are Black, “and we know that people are often more likely to do something if they see someone that looks like them doing it,” said Rachel M. Davis, Lactation Consultant Training Program Director at JCSU. 

The Lactation Consultant Training Program is a comprehensive training program in breastfeeding and human lactation. Students will attend classes at JCSU and complete clinical rotations through Novant Health and other community based locations. “The program is a strategic collaboration between Queen City Cocoa B.E.A.N.S., Novant Health, JCSU and the RISE project to invest in lactation experts with extraordinary skill and cultural empathy. We believe it will build a legacy of hope and health,” said LuGenia Grider, the visionary behind the program. RISE is a UNC Chapel Hill project, funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which aims to help HBCUs work toward Reclaiming, Improving and Sustaining Equity by assisting HBCUs with the accreditation process associated with establishing Pathway 2 lactation consultant training programs. Graduates of this program will be well suited for employment, as students are required to have completed a standard set of course prerequisites covering 14 health science subjects (typical of the education required of health professionals). Upon successful completion of the program, students will have earned 12 college course credits, at least 90 hours of didactic education and 300+ clinical hours, which will then make them eligible to apply to sit for the IBCLC exam. 

“We are aware of the crisis in breastfeeding and the lack of available information and guidance among African American community members and infant and childcare professionals.  There is an urgent need for more birth workers and lactation experts that can assist the families who need it the most,” said Dr. Antonia Mead, chair of JCSU’s Department of Health and Human Performance. “We want to help close that gap in the community and at the same time, create more employment opportunities.”

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