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'Breastfeeding is going to be beneficial' | Pediatricians update guidance on continuing breastfeeding through the first 2 years

Doctors say the benefits can be good for mother and baby, but policy changes must also be made.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It's been a decade since the breastfeeding guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics was last updated. That changes now. The latest recommendation is to continue breastfeeding for the first two years or longer in some cases.

This recommendation aligns with other organizations like the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Family Physicians which previously suggested the breastfeeding change, citing the benefits it can bring.

“We know that toddlers do develop a number of respiratory infections, ear infections, and that breastfeeding is going to be beneficial, both from a nutrient standpoint for toddlers, but also from an immunologic standpoint, helping to protect them against viruses and illnesses," Megan Dunn, a lactation consultant for Atrium Health Women’s Care, said.

The additional benefits for a mother include reducing rates of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes.

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Doctors say they also want to make sure that additional support is provided to families who choose to breastfeed. Some of the policy changes that would help in that decision involve funding public health breastfeeding programs in minority communities, improving insurance reimbursement, and providing universal paid maternity leave.

“So the American Academy of Pediatrics did speak to the role of pediatricians and health care providers and organizations to call for policy change on many levels to better support families so that they have the resources needed to meet their goals," Dunn said.

Doctors say breastfeeding may not be the ideal option for every family, but they want to make sure every family has the right resources to make the right choice.

Contact Briana Harper at bharper@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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