Monday, February 27, 2012

New Breastfeeding Policy from the AAP

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has updated its breastfeeding policy statement, and the changes are quite significant. It now begings by stating that infant feeding is not a personal choice and should be considered a public health issue. The new statement reaffirms that babies should be breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months and to 1 year minimum with complementary foods.

The statement abstract, posted below, even takes note of the importance of Baby Friendly hospital practices in increasing breastfeeding initiation and duration rates. This is a giant step in the right direction and a real game changer. What do you think of the new, more strongly worded statement?

Breastfeeding and human milk are the normative standards for infant feeding and nutrition. Given the documented short- and long-term medical and neurodevelopmental advantages of breastfeeding, infant nutrition should be considered a public health issue and not only a lifestyle choice. The American Academy of Pediatrics reaffirms its recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for about 6 months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced, with continuation of breastfeeding for 1 year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant. Medical contraindications to breastfeeding are rare. Infant growth should be monitored with the World Health Organization (WHO) Growth Curve Standards to avoid mislabeling infants as underweight or failing to thrive. Hospital routines to encourage and support the initiation and sustaining of exclusive breastfeeding should be based on the American Academy of Pediatrics-endorsed WHO/UNICEF “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.” National strategies supported by the US Surgeon General’s Call to Action, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and The Joint Commission are involved to facilitate breastfeeding practices in US hospitals and communities. Pediatricians play a critical role in their practices and communities as advocates of breastfeeding and thus should be knowledgeable about the health risks of not breastfeeding, the economic benefits to society of breastfeeding, and the techniques for managing and supporting the breastfeeding dyad. The “Business Case for Breastfeeding” details how mothers can maintain lactation in the workplace and the benefits to employers who facilitate this practice.
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