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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UNC: New Research Could Help Caregivers Identify Exclusive Breastfeeding Challenges in the First Week of Life

More women than ever are choosing to breastfeed with widespread recognition of the benefits. Breastfeeding is recommended as the sole source of nutrition for the first six months in a child’s life, followed by continued breastfeeding with the addition of nutritious complementary foods for at least a year and beyond. A newly released state-of-the-art review provides guidance for health care practitioners to help them assess and manage exclusive breastfeeding during the first week of life.

The review article, published in Pediatrics, incorporates research from UNC-Chapel Hill and a team that includes senior author Dr. Alison Stuebe, professor of maternal and child health and distinguished professor in infant and young child feeding at the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute at University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Even though exclusive breastfeeding is recommended by physicians, for some moms it’s not always possible. Important clues can help identify when supplementation is medically necessary. The review provides an algorithm to help clinicians recognize when infants have sub-optimal nutrition intake. It also helps determine whether mothers can provide their own expressed milk or if supplementation with donor human milk or infant formula is needed.

Too often, mothers blame themselves when breastfeeding comes undone,” said Dr. Stuebe, who is also a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the UNC School of Medicine. “Tailored support in the first week is essential so that every mother has the opportunity to nurture her baby at the breast.”

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