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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Pediatricians' Practices and Attitudes Regarding Breastfeeding Promotion

Authors
item Schanler, Richard
item O'Connor, Karen - AM ACADEMY PEDIATRICS
item Lawrence, Ruth - UNIV ROCHESTER SCH MED

Submitted to: Pediatrics
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 9, 1998
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: This study shows the results of a survey on breastfeeding which was sent to pediatrician members of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The AAP has long promoted breastfeeding as the best form of infant nutrition, and most pediatricians agree. It is expected that an impending campaign will increase public awareness of breastfeeding and prompt more interactions on the topic with pediatricians. This survey was designed to determine pediatricians' current recommendations, practices and ideas regarding breastfeeding so programs can be designed to give them the information they need. More than 1,000 doctors responded to the survey; 65 percent said they recommended breastfeeding exclusively for the first month after birth, while 38 percent said they usually recommend continuation of breastfeeding for one year. However, the majority said they agreed or were neutral about the concept that breastfeeding and formula-feeding are equally acceptable methods of feeding infants. Based on the results, we conclude that pediatricians need a great deal more education about breastfeeding and its management.

Technical Abstract: Objective: Public awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding is expected to increase with the inception of the national, federally-funded, Best Start Breastfeeding Promotion Campaign. It is anticipated that this will result in more breastfeeding-based interactions between families and pediatricians. The American Academy of Pediatrics conducted a survey of its members to identify their educational needs regarding breastfeeding in order to assist in the design of appropriate information programs. Method: An eight-page self-administered questionnaire was sent to 1,602 active Fellows of The American Academy of Pediatrics. Results: The response rate was 71%. Breastfeeding, as the exclusive feeding practice for the first month after birth, was recommended by only 65% of pediatricians; only 38% recommended breastfeeding for 1 year. A majority of pediatricians agreed with or had a neutral opinion regarding the statement that breastfeeding and formula-feeding are equally acceptable methods for feeding infants. Reasons given for not recommending breastfeeding included medical conditions with known treatments. The majority of pediatricians (72%) were unfamiliar with the contents of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative. The majority of pediatricians have not attended a presentation on breastfeeding management in the last 3 years; most said they wanted more education on breastfeeding management. Conclusion: Pediatricians have significant educational needs in the area of breastfeeding management.

Last Modified: 12/21/2014
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