Home Visiting Effects on Breastfeeding and Bedsharing in a Low-Income Sample




Joshua P. Mersky, Colleen E. Janczewski, ChienTi Plummer Lee, Ross M. Gilbert, Cali McAtee, and Tajammal Yasin

Brief Type

Journal Publication


  • Healthy Families America (HFA)


Background. Research suggests that home visiting interventions can promote breastfeeding initiation, though their effects on breastfeeding continuation are unclear. No known studies have assessed the impact of home visiting on bedsharing. Aims. To test the effects of home visiting on breastfeeding and bedsharing in a low-income, urban sample in the United States. Methods. During a field trial conducted in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from April 2014 to March 2017, referrals to a public health department were randomized to a Healthy Families America (HFA) program or a prenatal care and coordination (PNCC) program. Of the 204 women who accepted services, 139 consented to the study and were allocated to the two treatment groups, which were compared with each other and a third quasi-experimental group of 100 women who did not accept services. Data were collected at four time points up to 12 months postpartum. Results. Breastfeeding initiation was higher among 72 HFA participants (88.4%; odds ratio [OR] = 2.7) and 67 PNCC participants (88.5%; OR = 2.2) than 100 comparison participants (76.5%). Similar results emerged for breastfeeding duration, though group differences were not statistically significant. Unexpectedly, bedsharing prevalence was higher among HFA participants (56.5%) than PNCC participants (31.1%; OR = 2.9) and comparison group participants (38.8%; OR = 2.0). Discussion. Home visiting was linked to increased breastfeeding, while effects on bedsharing varied by program. Progress toward precision home visiting will be advanced by identifying program components that promote breastfeeding and safe sleep. Conclusion. Further research is needed to examine whether home visiting reduces disparities in breastfeeding and safe sleep practices. (author abstract)

Data Collection Methods

  • Program administrative record reviews



For More Information

Mersky, J. P., Janczewski, C. E., Plummer Lee, C., Gilbert, R. M., McAtee, C., & Yasin, T. (2021). Home visiting effects on breastfeeding and bedsharing in a low-income sample. Health Education & Behavior48(4), 488-495. https://doi.org/10.1177/1090198120964197
Author Contact Information:
Joshua P. Mersky


  • Participant, Family, and Program Outcomes