Introduction

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has long supported breastfeeding. All family physicians, whether or not they provide maternity care, have a unique role in the promotion of breastfeeding. They understand the advantages of family-centered care and are well positioned to provide breastfeeding support in that context. Because they provide comprehensive care to the whole family, family physicians have an opportunity to provide breastfeeding education and support throughout the course of life to all members of the family.

History

Throughout most of history, breastfeeding was the norm, with only a small number of infants not breastfed for a variety of reasons. In the distant past, wealthy women had access to wet nurses, but, with the industrial revolution, this practice declined, as wet nurses found higher-paying jobs. By the late 19th century, infant mortality from unsafe artificial feeding became an acknowledged public health problem. Public health nurses addressed this by promoting breastfeeding and home pasteurization of cows’ milk. In the early 20th century, commercial formula companies found a market for artificial baby milks as safer alternatives to cows’ milk. During this same period, infant feeding recommendations became the purview of the newly organized medical profession. Partially because of physician support and a vision of “scientific” infant care, the widespread use of formula as a breast milk substitute for healthy mothers and babies emerged. Throughout the mid-20th century, most physicians did not advocate breastfeeding, and most women did not choose to breastfeed. An entire generation of women—and physicians—grew up not viewing breastfeeding as the normal way to feed babies. Despite the resurgence of breastfeeding in the late 20th century in the United States, breastfeeding and formula feeding continued to be considered virtually equivalent, representing merely a lifestyle choice parents may make without significant health sequelae.
Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that a child breastfeed for at least two years.

A teljes szöveg az American Academy of Family Physicians oldalán olvasható.