Department of Nutrition Student Projects

Submission Date


Document Type

Final Project

Degree Name

Master of Nutrition Science (MS)

First Mentor

Stephanie Petrosky, D.C.N.(c), M.H.A., RDN, LDN, FAND


Food Insecurity, Pediatric, Breastfeeding, NICU



Introduction: Although breastfeeding is more sustainable and affordable compared to infant formula, mothers who are food insecure are shown to breastfeed less and turn to formula more. This paradox may result from beliefs surrounding diet and breastfeeding. For example, evidence shows that mothers may believe that the quality of their breastmilk may be negatively affected by insufficient diet and stress which is caused by food insecurity.

Objective: The objective was to find an association between food insecurity and method of infant feeding (breastfeeding or combination of breastmilk and formula).

Methods: Food insecurity surveys were administered to 31 mothers in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital for 32 days.

Results: The total sample population is food insecure, with 54.8% of respondents reporting food insecurity. There are 32.26% of mothers who are food insecure and do a combination of breastmilk and formula, compared to the 22.58% of mothers who are food insecure and exclusively breastfeed (p=0.149).

Conclusions: While results did find that most of the sample was food insecure, there was no association between their food insecurity and its influence on their choice of feeding.