Objective. To determine the number and dollar amount of federally funded research projects in the area of infant nutrition/breastfeeding/lactation from 1994 to 1996, and the impact of these funded projects on the achievement of our national goals for increasing the rates of breastfeeding initiation and duration.
Methods. Data were obtained from the Computer Retrieval of Information on Scientific Projects database, available through the National Institutes of Health. Abstracts of funded projects were identified, printed, and subjected to content analysis. Key information identified from the abstracts included: National Institutes of Health institute, center, or division funding the project; type of extramural funding; amount of federal dollars awarded; and a classification of the project’s impact (direct, indirect, or none) on achievement of the Healthy People 2000 goals for breastfeeding.
Results. The final sample consisted of 362 abstracts in the broad category of infant nutrition/breastfeeding/lactation, which were awarded approximately $40.4 million in federal research funds over the 3 years addressed in this study. Of this amount, only 13.7% ($5.6 million) was awarded to projects determined to have either a direct or indirect impact on achieving the Healthy People 2000 goals for increasing the incidence and duration of breastfeeding. A total of 27 (7.5%) funded projects in this category, reflecting $4.1 million, had no relationship to breastfeeding per se, as they involved the use of human milk composition and technologies to improve artificial milks and develop new pharmaceuticals and therapies.
Conclusions. These findings suggest an incongruity between the national priorities for breastfeeding and the funding of scientific research in this content area, and provide important information for researchers and policymakers with respect to identification and redirection of funding priorities.