Physicians call for breastfeeding support

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is calling for healthcare providers, employers, and hospitals to support women who elect to breastfeed their infants, according to a statement released Wednesday.

Breastfeeding offers a number of benefits for the mother and infant and is the preferred method of feeding, according to ACOG. The group also emphasizes that nearly all women are capable of breastfeeding their child.

There are only a few situations, according to ACOG, in which breastfeeding should not occur: if the mother uses illegal drugs or is a heavy drinker; if the mother is infected with HIV or certain other viruses; or the baby has galactosemia, an uncommon condition involving high galactose sugar levels in the blood.

ACOG continues to recommend exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first 6 months of life. The US Public Health Service for Healthy People 2010 goal is to have 50 percent or more of women breastfeeding at 6 months and 25 percent at 12 months.

ACOG acknowledges that there is still a long way to go to achieve this goal, but emphasizes that with proper support services and education, it is attainable.

“Women should be supported in integrating breastfeeding into their daily lives in the community and in the workplace to enable them to continue breastfeeding as long as possible,” according to the ACOG statement, which appears in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

SOURCE: Obstetrics and Gynecology, February 2007.

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