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Longer breastfeeding can lead to health benefits for both mother and child
A review of the scientific evidence for the effects of breastfeeding length showed that many mothers breastfeed their children far too short. US researchers found that breastfeeding has significant health benefits for newborn children. But there are also some advantages for the mother.
Scientists from the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) found that many mothers breastfeed their children too shortly. As a result, mother and child miss some important health benefits. The independent panel of experts published a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Benefits of longer breastfeeding
The benefits of breastfeeding include providing optimal nutrition and improving the baby's immune system, the authors say. For the mother, longer breastfeeding leads to a closer connection with the baby and accelerated maternal weight loss after birth.
Half of all mothers breastfeed for a maximum of six months
There is convincing evidence that breastfeeding offers significant health benefits for children and moderate health benefits for women, the doctors explain in their report. Almost half of all mothers in the United States breastfeed initially, but stop breastfeeding within the first six months.
Some women have problems breastfeeding
The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages women to breastfeed for at least the first year, while the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding for two years or more. However, only about 22 percent of babies in the United States are breastfed for six months. Around 80 percent of children are breastfed early in their young lives, but this usually ends too quickly. This shows that some women have problems with continued breastfeeding, the researchers explain. Breastfeeding is a natural process, but the first steps can be complicated, experts continue.
Possible reasons for breastfeeding too short
There are several reasons for stopping breastfeeding. For example, returning to work can make breastfeeding impossible. Some mothers are also physically unable to breastfeed, the scientists explain. Another reason for stopping breastfeeding could simply be the convenience of the mother. Individual advice from trained staff is the most effective intervention against breastfeeding that is too short, the authors add.
Does using a pacifier cause breastfeeding problems?
Some of the existing guidelines could be harmful, doctors say. For example, mothers are often advised not to give pacifiers to their children, since using the pacifier can deter children from breastfeeding. However, the use of a pacifier leads to a reduction in the risk of sudden infant death, the experts explain.
Not all mothers can breastfeed their child
Another source of controversy is the advice that mothers should only feed their babies breast milk within the first few days of life. Because breastfeeding can increase the risk of dehydration, the doctors explain. In addition, some mothers had no breast milk at all within the first few days. Sometimes the milk comes after four to seven days.
Every mother needs effective, tailored advice
The experts urge medical professionals to use their individual judgment to develop tailor-made approaches for all women. A single, uniform approach is ineffective in improving the breastfeeding of the population, the experts explain. (as)