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STUDY: Mother Nature Best
JOURNAL: Annals of Family Medicine
AUTHORS: Preventive Services Task Force
ABSTRACT: Simply telling a new mother to breastfeed, or even giving her a pamphlet laying out the benefits, is not enough to really encourage the practice.
COMMENTARY: Women need to be coached at length on how and why to breastfeed, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of medical experts that advises government health agencies, says in new recommendations.
The science backing breastfeeding is clear -- breastfed babies are healthier and less susceptible to disease, they may have better brain development and they have stronger bonding with their mothers.
They are less prone to be either underweight or overweight and breastfeeding also helps a mother lose the weight gained during pregnancy.
The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for a full two years while the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends nursing for at least one year and longer if possible.
Yet in 2001 only 69.5 percent of new U.S. mothers said they had ever breastfed their newborns and just 32 percent are still breastfeeding at six months.
Low-income mothers are the least likely to breastfeed.
The new recommendations, published in the Annals of Family Medicine, suggest that doctors encourage new mothers to enroll in educational breastfeeding classes that address techniques, common problems, benefits, myths and skills training.
The Task Force recommends against the use of packages given to mothers when they leave the hospital when they include samples of formula, which have been found to lower rates of breastfeeding.