Breastfeeding taskforce

WHO dispels misconceptions about breastfeeding in the medical community

August 05, 2021

4 minute read

Source/Disclosures

Source: Healio Interview

Disclosures: Healio Primary Care was unable to confirm relevant financial information for Fore, Grummer-Strawn and Tedros at the time of publication.


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The first week of August is World Breastfeeding Week, a time to highlight the importance of creating “breastfeeding-friendly environments for mothers and babies”, according to the WHO.

The U.S. Task Force on Preventive Services and the AAP have issued recommendations that encourage breastfeeding, and the WHO has stated that increased breastfeeding rates are an essential part of eliminating child malnutrition in the world.

During World Breastfeeding Week, the WHO highlighted the importance of creating more “breastfeeding-friendly environments”.
image source: Adobe Stock

Despite the health benefits, the CDC estimates that only about 25% of babies in the United States are exclusively breastfed at or around 6 months. Other reports indicate that this rate can be as high as 39% in parts of Western Europe and the developing world.

Laurence Grummer Strawn

In high-income countries, there are some misconceptions about breastfeeding within the medical community, Lawrence grumble-Strawn, PhD, lead for food and nutrition action in health systems at WHO, said Healio Primary Care.

“Many healthcare professionals in high-income countries believe that breastfeeding only matters in poor countries, where water is unclean or families cannot afford milk. mothered,” he said.

Additionally, healthcare professionals “often minimize the role they play in shaping decisions about infant and young child feeding,” according to Grummer-Strawn.

“They sometimes worry that by providing scientific information about breastfeeding, they’re making women feel guilty about their feeding decisions,” he said. “As a result, they deprive women of the support they need to address issues with positioning, latching, pain, or situation-specific issues.”

Healthcare professionals can also undermine mothers’ confidence “by suggesting that breastfeeding is good ‘if she can’ or ‘if she has enough milk,'” Grummer-Strawn said.

“True milk insufficiency is quite rare and is usually caused by poor lactation management,” he added.

Grummer-Strawn encouraged healthcare professionals to “provide skilled support” regarding breastfeeding to pregnant women and mothers. He also said some in the medical community might need a refresher on breastfeeding management.

UNICEF Executive Director Henriette Fore and WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, MSc, PhD, said in a press release that “unfounded fears that breastfeeding can transmit COVID-19” are undermining progress in increasing breastfeeding rates.

“Now is not the time to lower our ambitions,” they said. “Now is the time to aim high.”

In conjunction with World Breastfeeding Week, below are 10 recent articles on Healio that outline some of the latest breastfeeding research.

Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 via breast milk unlikely, study finds

According to a recent study, mothers are not likely to transmit SARS-CoV-2 to their infants through breast milk. Read more.

Maternal vaccination against COVID-19 can protect breastfed infants

According to a study of dozens of breastfeeding women in Israel, women vaccinated against COVID-19 produced “robust” levels of specific anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in breast milk samples for 6 weeks post-vaccination. vaccination. Read more.

Nearly 40% of women change their breastfeeding plans due to childbirth experiences

Nearly 4 in 10 women have had a birthing experience, such as the pain of a C-section, that caused them to change their breastfeeding plans, according to survey data. Read more.

Formula-fed newborns in the hospital are weaned from breast milk earlier

According to a study published in Pediatrics find. Read more.

Maternal exercise may enhance the benefits of breastfeeding

Pregnant women who engaged in moderate levels of exercise increased a compound in their breast milk that may lower the risk of serious health problems like cardiovascular disease or diabetes in their offspring, researchers reported in Natural metabolism. Read more.

Any duration, exclusive breastfeeding linked to low BP in infancy

According to results published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Read more.

Q&A: Health professional advice on maternal nutrition while breastfeeding children with food allergies varies

Hannah Wangberg, MD, a pediatrician and internist in San Diego, spoke with Healio about her investigation that uncovered inconsistencies in the advice healthcare professionals provide to nursing mothers of children with IgE-mediated food allergies. Read more.

Drinking milk during pregnancy, breastfeeding can reduce allergy risk in children

According to a study published in Nutrients. Read more.

Exclusive breastfeeding leads to ‘drastic’ reduction in pediatric dental disease

Children who were exclusively breastfed for 6 months were less likely to have dental disease, according to data presented at the American Public Health Association’s virtual annual meeting and expo. Read more.

Breastfeeding may reduce risk of ovarian cancer ‘beyond’ pregnancy alone

Naoko Sasamoto, MD, MPH, of the Center for Epidemiology of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, spoke about her JAMA Oncology study that suggested breastfeeding as a potentially modifiable factor that may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer, independent of pregnancy alone, and what this means for clinicians. Read more.

The references:

AAP. Pediatrics. 2012; doi:10.1542/peds.2011-3552.

cdc.gov. Breastfeeding Report Card for the United States, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/pdf/2020-Breastfeeding-Report-Card-H.pdf. Accessed August 3, 2021.

Theurich MA, et al. J Pediatrician Gastroenterol Nutr. 2019;doi:10.1097/MPG.0000000000002234.

USPSTF.org. Breastfeeding: Primary Care Interventions. https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/breastfeeding-primary-care-interventions. Accessed August 3, 2021.

WHO. Joint statement by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore and WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week. https://www.who.int/news/item/31-07-2021-joint-statement-by-unicef-executive-director-henrietta-fore-and-who-director-general-dr.-tedros-adhanom -ghebreyesus-on-the-occasion-of-world-breastfeeding-week. Accessed August 3, 2021.

Xiaodong C, et al. Int Breastfeeding J. 2012;doi:10.1186/1746-43580-7/-12.