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Evidence says breast still best


Larissa Nicholson

Professor Linda Tapsell.

Professor Linda Tapsell. Photo: David Tease

Breast milk is best for babies, according to new infant feeding guidelines released on Monday, and there is more evidence than ever supporting its health benefits.

The National Health and Medical Research Council's updated Infant Feeding Guidelines recommend infants be exclusively breastfed until they are six months old, when solid foods should be introduced.

The guidelines recommend breastfeeding continues until the child is one year old, and longer if desired, but healthcare workers should respect and support mothers who chose not to breastfeed.

The guidelines say studies show breastfeeding can reduce the risk and severity of gastrointestinal infections, respiratory illness, asthma and some childhood cancers.

Professor Linda Tapsell, a member of the Dietary Guidelines Working Committee, said new research had backed up previous advice on the value and benefits of breastfeeding.

''What has changed is we're feeling very confident about what we've been saying over the years … the evidence supporting the value of breastfeeding has been strengthened,'' she said.

Australian Breastfeeding Association spokeswoman Meredith Laverty welcomed the updated guidelines.

''It takes away the confusion for parents surrounding the introduction of solids, and it's evidence-based guidelines,'' she said.

Ms Laverty said most Australian mothers intended to breastfeed their children, but a lack of support meant nearly a third had switched to using a bottle by the time their infants were one month old.

She said employers had a role to play in creating workplaces where mothers returning to work were able to breastfeed their children.


  • You mean, millions of years of evolution have done better than 50 years of Big Pharma? Fancy that!

    Date and time
    February 19, 2013, 8:16AM
    • So let's get more support for breastfeeding mothers. Instead of discharging them from hospital after a day let's follow up with a lactation consultant during the hospital stay, at home for a minimum of two weeks with the option to extend if necessary. Why not reintroduce milk banks, where milk can be appropriately screened before being passed to those who genuinely cannot breastfeed.

      I was fortunate breastfeeding came naturally for me with both kids. I loved it, they loved and I had plenty of milk. I would have happily donated excess but instead it was washed down the drain.

      It's so odd people don't question how unnatural it is to drink milk expressed from a lactating cow but they think "eww" when it's human milk.

      Miss D
      Date and time
      February 19, 2013, 10:06AM
      • Yes more support is required! I had the benefit of being in the Canberra Birth Centre program so had assistance from my allocated midwife in the first few weeks after birth and in ending up with a C-section had great assistance from the post natal ward nurses who asked me to buzz them for every feed in the first few days so they could assist with attachment. I credit this assistance for my relatively trouble free breastfeeding journey.

        I really felt for my sister in law who has attempted breastfeeding each of her three kids but switched to formula within a week or less for all of them. She had very short uncomplicated labours and was discharged from hospital the same or next day with them all. When discussing breast feeding with her she had no idea about some concepts that could have seen her be successful with breastfeeding such as syringe feeding my little one with expressed colostrum for the first few days due to poor initial suck reflex. Assistance nerds to be made available to new mothers and they also need to be told about it!

        New mum
        Date and time
        February 20, 2013, 5:37AM
        Comments are now closed

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