New mothers who turn to doctors for advice on breastfeeding may be in for a bitter disappointment. A survey among more than 3,000 specialist doctors and physicians including pediatricians, gynecologists and those specializing in family medicine has s
Less than half of trainee doctors knew how to cope with a breastfed infant with jaundice, or with a mother with a breast abscess.
Practising physicians were marginally more knowledgeable, but even 30 per cent of these chose the wrong advice to give to a mother with a low milk supply.
The specialists explained that their experience of breastfeeding was confined to the lecture hall, and only half had actually seen a mother breastfeed her child. Fewer than 20 per cent had watched a mother breast feeding more than five times.
While virtually all of them agreed that women should be counselled and encouraged to breastfeed, only half felt themselves capable of doing so, and many of these only because they were already fathers and had gone through the experience with their wives.
In conclusion, the researchers at the University of North Carolina who carried out the survey said there was an urgent need for proper training, which included real life experiences, if doctors were going to properly counsel mothers (JAMA, February 8, 1995).
Breastfeeding campaigners in the UK are angry that the government has backed off from creating new controls on the promotion of infant formulas. Health ministers have decided not to ban advertisements for baby milks, despite earlier promises that they would. Instead, advertisements will still be allowed to appear in magazines, aimed at health care professionals.