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New Breastfeeding Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics

From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 15 No. 2, March - April 1998, p. 45

New guidelines on breastfeeding issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on December 1, 1997, were greeted with strong approval by officials and members of La Leche League International, the world's foremost authority on breastfeeding.

The AAP statement recommends mothers breastfeed for at least the first twelve months of life and as long after as is mutually desired. "This guideline affirms the value of allowing babies to breastfeed beyond infancy, weaning gradually without an outside time frame and thereby providing a more satisfying breastfeeding experience for both mother and child," says Betty Crase, Director of the Center for Breastfeeding Information at La Leche League International headquarters.

Some of the other guidelines adopted by the AAP include:

  • Newborns should be nursed whenever they show signs of hunger, such as increased alertness or activity, mouthing, or rooting. Crying is a late indicator of hunger.
  • No supplements (water, glucose water, formula, and so forth) should be given to breastfeeding newborns unless a medical indication exists.
  • Exclusive breastfeeding is ideal nutrition and sufficient to support optimal growth and development for approximately the first 6 months of life.
  • Before advising against breastfeeding or recommending premature weaning, the practitioner should weigh thoughtfully the benefits of breastfeeding against the risks of not receiving human milk.

La Leche League members around the world hope that the new statement, which also urges employers to consider providing the means to help working women breastfeed and asks insurance companies to offer coverage for lactation-related services, will help convince everyone to support women in their decision to breastfeed.

Copies of the full text of the article from the December 1997 issue of Pediatrics that supports and expands upon these new guidelines are available from the AAP).

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