Gillings students receive community engagement fellowship to develop breastfeeding curriculum

March 3, 2016

Stacey Klaman and Kea Turner are going to create a breastfeeding curriculum specifically for women with substance use disorders.

Stacey Klaman

Stacey Klaman

Kea Turner

Kea Turner

The two UNC scholars have received a 2016 Community Engagement Fellowship Award from the Carolina Center for Public Service. The $2,000 award will fund their efforts to develop educational health materials for pregnant women who are being treated for substance use disorder as part of the UNC Horizons Program.

Klaman and Turner are both doctoral students at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Klaman studies maternal and child health, and Turner studies in the health policy and management department.

“I’m excited to become part of Carolina’s long history of public service by partnering with UNC Horizons,” Klaman said. “The choice of breastfeeding by pregnant or newly parenting women with a history of substance use is challenging for many reasons. With the support of the Center for Public Service, we have a unique opportunity to help address breastfeeding barriers, increase the number of mothers whom breastfeed and to improve maternal-infant bonding for the women in the program.”

UNC Horizons is a comprehensive addiction treatment program for women of childbearing age, including pregnant and postpartum women and mothers with young children. Horizons offers outpatient treatment in Chapel Hill and Raleigh, North Carolina, as well as long-term residential treatment at two sites in Chapel Hill.

The core of the organization’s mission is improving community response and collaboration around services for pregnant women with substance use disorders. Horizons utilizes evidence-based curricula in areas such as addiction education, relapse prevention, parenting, family planning and employment services, but currently lacks a module on breastfeeding.

Klaman and Turner will work with two faculty mentors to create that module. Their mentors are Hendrée Jones, PhD, professor of obstetrics and genecology in UNC’s School of Medicine and executive director of the Horizons Program, and Rhonda Lanning, MSN, CNM, IBCLC, assistant professor in UNC’s School of Nursing.

“I am thrilled to be partnering with Stacey and Kea on this critical work,” said Lanning. “Women and infants affected by substance use disorder desperately need sensitive and meaningful interventions in order to successfully breastfeed. This new curriculum will be an integral part of a holistic approach to care.”

Through their engaged scholarship, Klaman and Turner will help UNC Horizons implement best practices in programmatic decision-making about the appropriateness of breastfeeding for women with a history of substance use. This complex choice depends on factors such as substance use treatment history, maternal drug use and infant health status.

Given the many benefits of breastfeeding, Stacey and Kea look forward to not only writing the curriculum but also assessing its effectiveness on infant and maternal health outcomes. If the pilot test at UNC Horizons is successful, they hope to replicate the curriculum in other substance use treatment centers in the state.

“I am honored to receive this fellowship,” Turner shared. “I have a great deal of respect for the Center’s commitment to public service and am excited to learn from their staff as well as the other fellows. I’m also thrilled to have the opportunity to work with UNC Horizons to implement an education program with the potential to improve maternal and infant health outcomes for women in North Carolina.”

Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or

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