- On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its breastfeeding guidelines.
- The AAP still recommends breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant’s life, but now also supports continued breastfeeding for two years or more.
- The AAP also called for policy change to remove barriers for parents who choose to breastfeed, recognizing that breastfeeding is not an option for everyone.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated its breastfeeding guidelines – extending the recommended time for parents to breastfeed their children, while calling for policy change and “non-judgmental support” for everyone’s food choices families.
In policy recommendations published on Mondaythe AAP maintained its direction at exclusively breastfeed infants for the first six months of life, before introducing other foods to supplement nutrition. Now the AAP is also urging pediatricians to support those who choose to continue breastfeeding after the introduction of solid foods for two or more years.
“We know that any breastfeeding is better than none…and the longer the total duration of breastfeeding, the better,” said Dr. Joan Younger Meek, lead author of the AAP reports and professor emeritus in Clinical Sciences at Florida State University College. of Medicine, USA TODAY said, highlighting the health benefits of breastfeeding for babies and their parents.
Still, Meek and the AAP noted that lingering stigma, lack of support, and barriers in the workplace can often be barriers for parents who choose to breastfeed — especially limiting those who want to breastfeed at all. beyond one year.
The authors of the new guidelines also acknowledged that some parents cannot breastfeed or prefer not to breastfeed – again advocating for healthcare professionals to meet the needs of every family.
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Monday marked the first update to the AAP’s breastfeeding guidelines in 10 years. Here’s what you need to know about his new recommendations.
Why does the AAP extend the recommended duration of breastfeeding?
In addition to providing essential nutrients to infants, research has shown links between breastfeeding and lower rates of lower respiratory tract infections, obesity, severe diarrhea, ear infections and reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome, AAP says.
“Breast milk is unique in its nutrients and protective effects, and truly remarkable when you look at what it does for the development of a child’s immune system,” Meek said in a statement with Monday’s policy recommendations.
Breastfeeding beyond one year and up to two years has been linked to protections for the breastfeeding parent against high blood pressure, diabetes, and breast and ovarian cancers, according to the AAP.
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Meek noted that the updated AAP guidelines align with World Health Organization recommendations. breastfeeding recommendations – which also recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, then continued breastfeeding while supplementing nutrition with complementary foods for up to two years and beyond.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that breastfeeding is not an option for everyone – and many use infant formula or seek out breast milk banks instead, in addition to supplementing their child’s nutrition with solid after six months.
According to statistics from the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention, in 2017, about 84% of infants started breastfeeding as soon as they were born. However, about 58% were still breastfeeding at 6 months.
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Meek emphasized the importance of healthcare professionals supporting each family’s decision and needs.
“The ultimate decision on how to feed the baby is a family decision, and healthcare providers really need to meet families where they are,” Meek said. “We know that not all families will be able to exclusively breastfeed for six months. We know that not all families will continue to breastfeed until 24 months…For families who, for medical reasons or by choice, decide that breastfeeding is not good for them, we need to support them in the same way and not make them feel ashamed or bad because they made a different decision.”
More support needed for breastfeeding, “chestfeeding”
For parents who can and choose to breastfeed, barriers related to lingering stigma and lack of support, especially in the workplace, persist, the AAP notes.
In Monday’s recommendations, the AAP called for “policies that protect breastfeeding” – including universal paid maternity leave, insurance coverage for breast pumps and lactation support, the right to breastfeed in public, universal break times in the workplace with private places to express milk, and on-site childcare.
“The AAP views breastfeeding as a public health imperative and also as a matter of equity,” Dr. Lawrence Noble, co-author of the position statement and technical report, said in a statement. “Paediatricians and other healthcare professionals can help mothers achieve their breastfeeding goals and provide inclusive, equitable, and culturally appropriate care.”
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The AAP also recognized the racial and socio-economic disparities that persist in breastfeeding – as well as the inequities for some gender-diverse parents who may not be able to access breastmilk due to social barriers or biological.
“The policy statement calls for tackling implicit bias, structural bias and structural racism to eliminate disparities in breastfeeding and improve the health and well-being of all children and families,” say the Monday recommendations. “When working with gender diverse families, the AAP suggests asking families what terms they use and that the term ‘breastfeeding’ may be more specific and inclusive as it relates to lactation and physiology in gender diverse families. .”