(HealthDay) -- Breastfeeding should be considered a basic health issue, rather than a lifestyle choice, and as such, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reaffirms its recommendations for exclusive breastfeeding for a baby's first six months of life, according to a policy statement published online Feb. 27 in Pediatrics.
Arthur I. Eidelman, M.D., and colleagues from the AAP Section on Breastfeeding reviewed recent research and literature to update the evidence for breastfeeding recommendations.
The AAP reaffirms its recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for a baby's first six months, followed by continued breastfeeding with the introduction of complementary foods. Continuation of breast feeding is recommended for one year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant. To avoid mislabeling infants as underweight or failing to thrive, they should be monitored using the World Health Organization Growth Curve Standards. The AAP calls upon hospitals and pediatric practices to advocate and support proper breastfeeding practices.
"Breastfeeding and the use of human milk confer unique nutritional and non-nutritional benefits to the infant and the mother and, in turn, optimize infant, child, and adult health as well as child growth and development," the authors write. "Thus, infant feeding should not be considered as a lifestyle choice but rather as a basic health issue."