ISSN: 0971-9032

Current Pediatric Research

International Journal of Pediatrics


The importance of breastfeeding for seriously ill infants and children

Many infants and children require medical care for acute or chronic illness. Breastfeeding confers multiple benefits to children both in the short and long term. Breastfeeding may shorten the duration and severity of illness and provide important immunological protection to potentially buffer children against hospital acquired infection. Breastfeeding also provides pain relief, comfort, and normality during times of fear, pain, stress and difficulty for families. However, maintaining breastfeeding during hospital admission can be challenging, due to institutional barriers, difficulty accessing specialist support, and lack of information and training for health care staff. While there is robust evidence about the needs of infants born prematurely, and a convincing and well-established acceptance of the importance of breast milk and for critically sick neonates, far less is known about the needs of older infants and children who develop illness or have ongoing health needs beyond the neonatal period. This presentation will explore the profound ways in which breastfeeding can support sick infants and children alongside medical treatment, introduce a model of collaborative working between medical, nursing and lactation professionals and make recommendations for practical ways in which breastfeeding can be protected, preserved and promoted in the hospital setting.

Author(s): Lyndsey Hookway

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