The American Academy of Pediatrics released its revised breastfeeding policy yesterday, updating the prior policy published in six years ago, and there are a number of changes which reflect recent research and policy developments.
I found a lot to like. Some highlights of the new policy:
- Describes breastfeeding as a matter of public health, not a lifestyle choice
- Points out the significant disparities in breastfeeding rates by race, income, and age.
- Recommends that pediatricians use the WHO growth charts which use the breastfed baby's growth as the norm
- Hospital policies should be based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, which forms the basis of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative
- States support for the efforts of the Surgeon General, the CDC, and the Joint Commission to support breastfeeding nationally
- States that pediatricians should be "knowledgeable about the health risks of not breastfeeding, the economic benefits to society of breastfeeding, and the techniques for managing and supporting the breastfeeding dyad."
- And...I initially missed the most important one! The recommendation for exclusive breastfeeding was changed from 4-6 months to 6 months.
Overall, the new policy contributes to my sense that the world of breastfeeding support is heading in the right direction.