Food insecurity (FI) is a prevalent public health issue in the United States and other high-income countries that disproportionately impacts vulnerable populations. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to health risks associated with FI. Past research indicates an association of prenatal FI with an elevated risk for pregnancy complications as well as maternal depression and stress during pregnancy. There is cause for concern that breastfeeding practices and infant health outcomes may be impacted. Prior systematic reviews have focused on the association of prenatal FI with maternal and neonatal health outcomes or focused on low-income countries. To our knowledge, no review has focused exclusively on recent literature published post-2020 on breastfeeding practices and infant health outcomes in high-income North American countries. Our team screened 1,465 articles by title and abstract from PubMed and SCOPUS to yield seven papers relevant for review. Data extracted included sample sociodemographics, the tool used to measure FI, premature birth, neonatal physiological measurements, healthcare utilization during infancy, breastfeeding behaviors, and infant feeding behaviors. Our review generated several key findings. One study found that prenatal FI is significantly linked to premature birth; however, other findings conflicted. Prenatal FI may increase emergency healthcare utilization and decrease the use of standard preventative care such as immunizations. Prenatal FI is associated with a higher risk of maternal pressuring feeding behaviors and infant food responsiveness. These findings have critical implications for clinical guidelines related to prenatal FI screening and postnatal breastfeeding counseling, as well as for interventions targeting pregnant, food-insecure women.
Gelfer, Serena, "The Impact of Prenatal Food Insecurity on Breastfeeding Practices and Infant Health Outcomes" (2023). Master of Public Health Capstone Presentations. Presentation 511.