Doctors Should Promote Breast-Feeding to Patients - Panel

12 Dec 2016


Education, practical help urged by U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

By Robert Preidt

Doctors should provide breast-feeding support and guidance to new mothers and pregnant women, an expert panel says.

This includes education about the benefits of breast-feeding, encouragement and practical help on how to breast-feed, according to the new U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation.

Primary care providers should help women make an informed choice about breast-feeding, the panel said.

"Breast-feeding has real health benefits for babies and their mothers. Primary care clinicians can help new moms who breast-feed be successful," said task force member Ann Kurth, dean of the Yale School of Nursing in New Haven, Conn.

"Primary care interventions to support breast-feeding are effective in increasing both the number of mothers who breast-feed and how long they breast-feed their babies," she added in a task force news release.

Breast-feeding offers health benefits for mothers and infants, the task force said. Breast-fed babies are less likely to have ear infections, or to develop chronic health problems such as asthma, obesity and diabetes. For mothers, breast-feeding is associated with a lower risk of breast and ovarian cancer and type 2 diabetes.

The task force is an independent, volunteer panel of medical experts that makes evidence-based recommendations about preventive health services such as screening, counseling and medications.

The new recommendation was published Oct. 25 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

SOURCE: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, news release, Oct. 25, 2016