U.S. Survey Highlights Newborn Breast-Feeding Practices

June 17, 2008

Maternity practices that could potentially interfere with breast-feeding are common in U.S. hospitals and birth centers, according to survey results published June 13 in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

TUESDAY, June 17 (HealthDay News) -- Maternity practices that could potentially interfere with breast-feeding are common in U.S. hospitals and birth centers, according to survey results published June 13 in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Ann M. DiGirolamo, Ph.D., of Emory University in Atlanta, and colleagues report on a survey of maternity practices regarding breast-feeding involving 2,687 facilities in the 50 states plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico (which are referred to as states in the study). Facilities were scored on factors such as breast-feeding instruction, newborn feeding practices and support after discharge, which were compiled into state and U.S. scores.

Mean scores tended to be higher in the northeast and western regions and lower in the South, the researchers report. Scores were highest for breast-feeding assistance, which included assessment and instruction for infant feeding. They were lowest for breast-feeding support after discharge, the report indicates. Common practices that aren't supportive of breast-feeding included giving supplements as a general practice to many healthy breast-feeding newborns and providing formula samples to breast-feeding mothers at discharge.

"The American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, and Academy of Breast-feeding Medicine all recommend that physicians provide intrapartum care that is supportive of breast-feeding. Hospitals and birth centers provide care to nearly all women giving birth in the United States. Thus, improving maternity practices in these facilities affords an opportunity to support establishment and continuation of breast-feeding," writes the author of an accompanying editorial note.

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