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When It Comes to Having a Positive Attitude about Breastfeeding Success, Pediatrics Have Some Work to Do :

October 2, 2017

If any child health care professional is asked about what is the ideal nutritional source for ensuring the growth and development of a healthy infant, the response is certainly something like “of course, breastfeeding is best”!

If any child health care professional is asked about what is the ideal nutritional source for ensuring the growth and development of a healthy infant, the response is certainly something like “of course, breastfeeding is best”! Yet just how optimistic are we that that saying that will result in exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first six months of an infant’s life, and that mothers who breastfeed will be successful enough at it to persist with this important feeding practice?  Feldman-Winter et al. (10.1542/peds.2017-1229) share with us some interesting data this week from a 2014 national survey of American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) members looking at ho2 pediatrician counseling practices and attitudes have changed from prior surveys dating back to 1995.  While more of us are in hospitals with “Baby Friendly” designations and more of us are recommending exclusive breastfeeding, we have lost ground in thinking that mothers can actually be successful at exclusive breastfeeding or that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the difficulties.  This is certainly disappointing data from the 620 respondents in this survey.

So who is less confident in their breastfeeding attitudes?  Are these experienced or less experienced pediatricians in terms of years of practice?  Can we do anything to change these attitudes so the next survey does not continue to show even less positivity by pediatricians for endorsing, supporting, and believing that mothers can be successful with this feeding practice?  To provide some perspective on these results and what we can do to improve our own competencies in breastfeeding support, we have asked pediatrician and board-certified lactation consultant Dr. Joan Meek to share her input through an accompanying commentary (10.1542/peds.2017-2509).  Read this study and commentary and then reflect on just how you can improve your ability to troubleshoot breastfeeding problems in the mothers of your newest patients and in turn improve our overall support for this essential source of infant nutrition.

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