The American Dietetic Association has released an updated position paper on breastfeeding that details health benefits for both infants and mothers and encourages promotion of breastfeeding whenever possible.
ADA's position paper, published in the November issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, represents the Association's official stance on breastfeeding:
It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that exclusive breastfeeding provides optimal nutrition and health protection for the first 6 months of life and breastfeeding with complementary foods from 6 months until at least 12 months of age is the ideal feeding pattern for infants. Breastfeeding is an important public health strategy for improving infant and child morbidity and mortality and improving maternal morbidity and helping to control health care costs.
ADA's position and accompanying paper were written by registered dietitians Delores C. S. James, associate professor of health education and behavior at the University of Florida; and Rachelle Lessen, a clinical nutritionist and lactation consultant at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
The authors' evidence-based review of breastfeeding's history, practices and health benefits in the United States and other countries concludes:
According to ADA's position paper, health benefits of breastfeeding for infants include:
Benefits for the mother include:
"ADA recognizes the various factors that influence women and their families to choose a particular infant feeding method," the authors write, "but ADA supports and advocates the position that breastfeeding is the optimal feeding method for the infant. (Registered dietitians and dietetic technicians, registered) have an important role in promoting and supporting breastfeeding for its short- and long-term health benefits for both mother and infants. RDs and DTRs also have an important role in conducting empirical research on breastfeeding-related topics. Research is especially needed on the effectiveness of breastfeeding promotion campaigns."
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