Breast is best?

Breastfeeding guidelines changed to support women who can’t or choose not to breastfeed

(REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force published its breastfeeding guidelines for 2016, which are identical to those of 2008 except for one little tweak: instead of asking physicians to “promote and support” breastfeeding among their patients, they are now only asked to “support.” While the independent panel of experts responsible for the guidelines still see breastfeeding as the best choice for mothers and their babies — with such proven health benefits as prevention of infections and allergies as well as a lowered risk of diabetes and heart disease — they wanted to relieve some of the pressure on women who are unable or unwilling to breastfeed. “We don’t want to shame or pressure women into doing something they are unable to do,” said Dr. Karen Duncan, a New York ob-gyn. “We do think breastfeeding is the best…but we need to be understanding that there are many circumstances that go into a woman’s decision about how to feed her baby.”

Still, some people have taken issue with the new wording. Spokeswoman Diana West of La Leche League International, which is dedicated to helping women breastfeed globally, says the guidelines could do a disservice to women and not get them the necessary information on breastfeeding. “Women need to understand all of the risks of formula, and benefits of human milk,” she said. “What we really come to understand is that far too often, women feel tremendous regret because they were not given adequate information and support [about breastfeeding] when they needed [it].”

Dr. Abigail Winkel, an ob-gyn in New York, also called the new wording “a little disappointing,” saying that while she understands the need to be supportive of women who don’t breastfeed, patients need to be educated about the health benefits and doctors should not shy away from having a tough conversation on the issue.

Read the full story at ABC News.

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