Stop the hyperbole when it comes to breastfeeding

“We should be honest, here. We know that breastfeeding is the major risk factor for hypernatremic dehydration, which has been estimated to occur in about 2 percent of term newborns. This is caused by inadequate fluid intake in a newborn, and can cause seizures, brain damage, and death; it usually requires hospitalization to treat. And breastfeeding is also a major factor leading to health consequences from newborn jaundice, including hearing loss and later learning problems. The authors of this paper didn’t try to quantify the costs of these health problems, any more than they tried to look at the economic impact of breastfeeding on family finances or a woman’s career.”

“Like all pediatricians, I think it’s best for babies if they’re breastfed. But we’re not doing anyone any favors by exaggerating the benefits of nursing, either in terms of economics or health. We do need good social supports and laws to protect the rights of women to nurse in public and at their jobs, but we don’t need formula feeding to be a mark of poor parenting. Honest information is what parents need. Can we stop the hyperbole?”