Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Two Breastfeeding Studies Provide New Information Worth Sharing with Parents

By: Lewis First, MD, MS; Editor-in-Chief 

Breastfeeding icon.
Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
There are many evidence-based reasons to exclusively breastfeed newborns and infants. Yet despite the evidence, mothers opt to not exclusively breastfeed for the recommended one-year duration, let alone six months or even a shorter time period. Yet each addition to the body of breastfeeding literature hopefully further convinces an expectant mother or one that has just given birth to choose exclusive breastfeeding as the best way to ensure the growth and development of her newborn.

Thus this week, we provide two additional studies that we found well worth sharing in our journal.

The first, by Abbass-Dick et al. (doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-1416), involved a randomized controlled trial to see if co-parenting breastfeeding support resulted in increases in breastfeeding duration and mothers feeling more supported by paternal partners.

The study involved more than 100 couples randomized to get either usual care or an intervention involving both parents’ involvement in understanding and supporting breastfeeding. The results of the co-parenting intervention are most impressive and may further enhance a mothers desire to continue to exclusively breastfeed for as long as she can.

The second study by Carling et al. (doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-1392) was a prospective observational study of mothers in rural and central New York of weight gain trajectories for the first two years of life in almost 600 infants.

The authors controlled for a number of possible confounders and found that the trajectories most worrisome for obesity risk were associated with the shortest duration of breastfeeding—especially if an infant breastfed for less than two months.

Since other studies have demonstrated that an overweight or obese younger child means increased risk of obesity up the road, this study should weigh heavily in your discussion with families of the importance of breastfeeding –especially if that family has a history of being overweight or obese.

Check out both studies—and then share what you learned with families of your infant patients. If they were on the fence about breastfeeding, these two studies may tip the balance in support of this important method of feeding.

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