Monday, April 17, 2017

Exaggerated Benefits of Breastfeeding

“There are countless medical, emotional, and economic benefits of breastfeeding…”
The American Academy of Pediatrics, April 2017

The benefits of breastfeeding are so plentiful they can’t be counted. Countless. Do not fall for this spin in the new clinical report issued this month by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Although “countless” the AAP still managed to rattle off a list of purported breastfeeding benefits to try to dazzle pediatricians into believing the benefits are stronger and better than they truly are.

The AAP experts are no longer interested, if they ever were, in quantifying the purported benefits. They certainly don’t like to take measure of the size of the benefits. Like telling you the number of ear infections you can prevent by breastfeeding for 6 months. They do not want moms to know it is less than one. As it turns out, breastfeeding benefits are relatively moderate and short-term. But that does not make anyone want to breastfeed let alone for one year, exclusively for 6 months.

I won’t even comment today on the other questionable language and claims in the new AAP report, including “optimal cognitive development.” 

Parents deserve better information. They don’t deserve “countless” benefits of breastfeeding. A respected pediatric organization should not spin health information. Period. 


Cheryl M. said...

This is pretty bad. What else are they exaggerating?

Polly Palumbo, Ph.D. said...

Hi Cheryl,

Yes, that is an issue.

As it turns out, a number of official guidelines that seem like they are based on water-tight, rock-solid data are not. Yes they are "evidenced-based" in that there is some research behind them. Generally the policy makers go by the existing evidence but it often does not provide specific cut offs or numbers, for instance, that there is anything "magic" about breastfeeding for one year. If you recall, they changed the early screen recommendations from birth to 18 months recently - from zero tv to almost zero tv bc although studies suggest early tv and screens are not particularly helpful (and in extreme cases hinder language development), there is not hard evidence.

Deuce Mom said...
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