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Byram Hills Senior Wins First-Place Award In MIT Inspire Competition

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ARMONK, N.Y. -- Byram Hills senior Danielle Adiletta has won first place in the Woman and Gender Studies category of the MIT Inspire competition.

Adiletta entered her authentic science research project, “Decisions About Infant Feeding: A Comparative Study of Women of Higher and Lower Education Levels.” The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's INSPIRE group, which runs the national competition with support from the institute's School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, also gave Adiletta a $2,000 award.

Her research grew out of her interest in improving maternal care of infants and her concern over a stubborn plateau in breast-feeding rates in the developed world despite vast medical knowledge supporting its health benefits. Although researchers have long assumed a link between education level and breastfeeding rates, this relationship has been poorly investigated.

She surveyed more than 300 mothers of varying socioeconomic status about their decision-making process regarding the feeding of their infants. She found that women of higher education level were significantly more likely to breastfeed. Her research also showed that well-educated women are more comfortable making decisions based upon theoretical knowledge because they are used to applying fact-based information.

By confirming the relationship between education and breastfeeding decisions, Adiletta's research opens new avenues that can be investigated to promote better infant care.

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