Breastfeeding and human milk are the normative standards for infant feeding and nutrition. The short- and long-term medical and neurodevelopmental advantages of breastfeeding make breastfeeding, or the provision of human milk, a public health imperative. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for approximately 6 months after birth. Furthermore, the AAP supports continued breastfeeding, along with appropriate complementary foods introduced at about 6 months, as long as mutually desired by mother and child for 2 years or beyond. These recommendations are consistent with those of the World Health Organization (WHO). Medical contraindications to breastfeeding are rare. The AAP recommends that birth hospitals or centers implement maternity care practices shown to improve breastfeeding initiation, duration, and exclusivity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and The Joint Commission monitor breastfeeding practices in US hospitals. Pediatricians play a critical role in hospitals, their practices, and communities as advocates of breastfeeding and, thus, need to be trained about the benefits of breastfeeding for mothers and children and in managing breastfeeding.
Published June 2022