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WhyPediatriciansSay Breast-Feeding is About PublicHealth,Not Just Lifestyle

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WhyPediatriciansSay Breast-Feeding is About PublicHealth,Not Just Lifestyle February 29, 2012

In a quietly worded statement released this week, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recalibrated the national dialogue on breast-feeding, deeming it a “public health issue and not only a lifestyle choice.”

Much of the statement on infant nutrition doesn’t differ radically from previous versions. But the recognition on behalf of the group’s 60,000 pediatricians that breast is best for mom, baby and the nation’s general well-being is creating buzz in the breast-feeding community.

“By recognizing that breastfeeding is much more than a personal choice, the AAP is sending a strong message that supporting breastfeeding is an important public health issue that merits societal support from the hospital to the workplace,” writes Hygeia, a breast-feeding site.

At Best for Babes, which promotes support for breast-feeding, co-founder Danielle Rigg praised the AAP for equating breast-feeding with public health. “In framing it that way, it becomes all of our responsibility — not just moms — to provide both the infrastructure and the social support to see to it that as many moms and babies as possible can do it,” she says. “If we can do it for breast cancer, we can do it for breastfeeding.”

Dr. Richard Schanler, chair of the AAP’s section on breast-feeding and director of neonatology at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in Long Island, is even more candid. “It’s not should I or shouldn’t I?” says Schanler. “Of course you should. It’s important for the health of your baby. And it’s important for your health too.”

MORE: Target Nurse-In: Did It Change Perceptions of Public Breast-Feeding?

The wealth of new data about the effects of breast-feeding influenced the AAP to update its guidelines. Researchers have found that breast-fed babies have a decreased risk of dying of SIDS, fewer ear infections, less likelihood of obesity or cardiovascular disease And fewer hospitalizations for pneumonia; mothers benefit from decreased risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancers. Duration is important: “The longer you do it and the more exclusive it is, some of these effects become even more significant,” says Schanler. “Hospitalization for pneumonia is significantly reduced if you exclusively breast-feed for six months as opposed to less than four months. How can you say that’s not important?”

It’s taken about five years, but there’s now consensus from the entire academy. When the previous guidelines were released, exclusive breast-feeding was recommended for six months, followed by an asterisk that directed those devoted souls who actually read policy papers to a footnote: while the AAP’s breast-feeding committee subscribed to a six-month duration, other members supported a time frame of four to six months.

Again what’s changed, says Schanler, is the prevalence of new data. The current policy calls for exclusive breast-feeding 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.”

MORE: What the U.S. Can Learn from Indonesia About Breastfeeding

Breast-feeding past one year, notes Schanler, is “not necessarily nutritive.” But it’s certainly psychological. For toddlers, it’s like their security blanket. “We see nothing wrong with it,” says Schanler. “But we are really trying to get the ball rolling so in a sense we are more interested in the early phase to get everyone on track.”

Bonnie Rochman is a reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @brochman. You can also continue the discussion on TIME‘s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.


http://healthland.time.com/2012/02/29/why-pediatricians-say-breast-feeding-is-about-public-health-not-just-lifestyle/
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by on Mar. 1, 2012 at 11:00 PM
Replies (11-19):
larissalarie
by Platinum Member on Mar. 2, 2012 at 1:30 AM
That would be great! Someone who's struggled in the past would be so relatable.

Quoting mIsSStot:

Thank you ! It's funny how somethings stay with you my oldest is 11 and I still get upset that I wasn't able to bf for very long. I think though that while bf was advocated 11 years ago it was nothing like it is now and we as a society have more room to be proactive.  I am thinking about a new career and being in the situation that i am in I have been thinking about doing what ever I need to do so I can become a LC so I can help others with questions and what not  And help society get over their qualms about bf. 


Quoting larissalarie:

Congratulations on the new little one & great job for breastfeeding :-) There us a lot of info, but try not to stress too much.

And as for your oldest, we all live & learn, right :-) Some breastfeeding is still great.




Quoting mIsSStot:

I like this article and really appreciate it as a new bf mother to a 2wk and 4dy old child . We really need so much more support than we get. Granted I did get lots of support while i was in the Hospital after giving Birth but i still had so many questions and there is so much information out there and it's hard to know what direction to go in as far as advice goes. I beat myself up all the time that I didn't bf myoldest for very long and this time around I want to go as long as possible.



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masonmomma
by on Mar. 2, 2012 at 1:35 AM
Very true.

Quoting mostlymaydays:

I love that they have clarified that this isn't a simple choice without serious long-term consequences to one's health, both for mother and baby. I think they've tiptoed around the issue so as not to offend people who chose not to breastfeed, but the health of children in this country is in serious and rapid decline and its time to try tough love. it might make some people uncomfortable but it is true.
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JeniJonas
by on Mar. 2, 2012 at 1:25 PM
Couldn't they have left out their piece on breastfeeding past a year though? Its not "nutritive"??? Are they serious??!! While I realize this article is a huge step in the right direction, I feel that paragraph ruined it right there. Excuse me while I stomp off and kick a random doctor in the shin...
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savannabooker
by Bronze Member on Mar. 2, 2012 at 2:09 PM
1 mom liked this
I so just sent this to my husband who wants me to stop bfing my dd in a month( she will be 2)
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momma2b2008
by on Mar. 2, 2012 at 2:19 PM
This is a great artical. I wish my friend would read this. It still bugs me that she isnt even going to try. She has even put formula on her registry. So I really don't think anything I say or do at this point is going to change her mind. It's really sad to me!
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larissalarie
by Platinum Member on Mar. 2, 2012 at 2:45 PM
I know...

Quoting JeniJonas:

Couldn't they have left out their piece on breastfeeding past a year though? Its not "nutritive"??? Are they serious??!! While I realize this article is a huge step in the right direction, I feel that paragraph ruined it right there. Excuse me while I stomp off and kick a random doctor in the shin...
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kiralyn
by on Mar. 2, 2012 at 2:45 PM
That last paragraph bothers me, too. Not nutritive? Then why are formula fed babies made to drink whole milk after a year? It is absolutely nutritive.

Anyways, I'm glad they have changed their guidelines, hopefully it has an effect on the mentality in America.
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larissalarie
by Platinum Member on Mar. 2, 2012 at 8:09 PM
1 mom liked this
That is sad. I understand quitting when there are issues and breastfeeding is blamed, but I really don't understand people who just don't want to and go with formula from day 1 (assuming they have no issues)

Here is a reply to a mom in another group who was saying how breastfeeding sounds optimal, but just isn't right for everyone in reality. Maybe sharing this analogy with your friend would help her see the importance?:


Of course, but general policy statements can't be based on individual circumstances. The fact is, to so many it's regarded as a simple lifestyle choice, when in fact that choice has serious health repercussions for mom & baby and therefore society.

To me it would be like making the third trimester of pregnancy optional simply because we have the technology available to sustain premature babies and give decent outcomes to most, to those who find it too bothersome to be big & pregnant. Sure if you can't carry a baby to term, that technology is wonderful, needed, and nothing to feel bad about. But if a mom simply wanted to choose to deliver at 29 weeks because she was tired of being pregnant, that would be a choice that would affect her child and society if everyone started doing it too.


Quoting momma2b2008:

This is a great artical. I wish my friend would read this. It still bugs me that she isnt even going to try. She has even put formula on her registry. So I really don't think anything I say or do at this point is going to change her mind. It's really sad to me!
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larissalarie
by Platinum Member on Mar. 2, 2012 at 8:16 PM
I know in one breath they'll tell you bf isn't nutritive and in the next tell you the need cow milk! Smh.

Quoting kiralyn:

That last paragraph bothers me, too. Not nutritive? Then why are formula fed babies made to drink whole milk after a year? It is absolutely nutritive.



Anyways, I'm glad they have changed their guidelines, hopefully it has an effect on the mentality in America.
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