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  1. 1. 1 Running head: BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING Benefits of Breastfeeding Melissa Jordan California Baptist University Author’s Note This paper is being submitted to Professor Susan A. Jetton in partial fulfillment of the requirements for Research and Writing for the Healthcare Professions, NUR 375, on February 12, 2015.
  2. 2. 2 BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING Benefits of Breastfeeding “If every child was breastfed within an hour of birth, given only breast milk for their first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding up to the age of two years, about 800,000 child lives would be saved every year” (World Health Organization, 2014). There are numerous benefits to breast-feeding not only for the child, but for the mother. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 2014, breastfeeding contributes to a lifetime of good health. Adolescents and adults who were breastfed as babies are less likely to be overweight or obese (WHO, 2014). This paper will analyze research conducted by Jenkins and Foster (2014) on the effects of breastfeeding exclusivity, and present a synthesis of other research findings that include the health benefits of breastfeeding, the protective impact breastfeeding has on postpartum depression in delivering mothers, and how the findings from these studies can be implemented into practice. Analysis of Primary Article Jenkins and Foster (2014) conducted a quantitative early childhood longitudinal study that investigated the relationships between exclusively breastfeeding and duration to the child’s health and cognitive outcomes for children ages two to four years of age. The sample size chosen for this study included 10,700 children born in the United States and the children were assigned to one of nine exclusive categories: never breastfed, and eight categories representing zero to seven or more months of being breastfeed exclusively (Jenkins & Foster, 2014). Breastfeeding status was determined by data collected from parents that described when children first were fed formula, food, finger food or milk (Jenkins & Foster, 2014).
  3. 3. 3 BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING Methodology The methodology used during this study were parent interviews and the child’s developmental status at nine months, two years, four years and in kindergarten, with the focus on the child’s health and cognitive outcomes at ages two and four years of age (Jenkins & Foster, 2014). Jenkins and Foster used trained administrators that used the collected data on the individual, family and community factors that influence children’s health and development during these visits with the child and the primary caregiver in the family’s home and the scores given were developed by National Center for Education Statistics using item response theory (Jenkins & Foster, 2014). Findings of the Study The findings of this study showed non-significant positive effects of breastfeeding exclusivity (BFE) in reading, math and fine motor skills at age 4 years. At age 2 years BFE only had significant positive effects in cognitive skills (Jenkins & Foster, 2014). As for nine months and children in kindergarten there were no significant findings to report (Jenkins & Foster, 2014). Jenkins and Foster (2014) support some of the more immediate benefits of breastfeeding in terms of nutrition and immunity After Dr. Jenkins and Dr. Foster conducted this research, they concluded that the key weakness found was that unobserved breastfeeding remained a potential threat to the internal validity of the findings, which could be hiding the true benefits of breastfeeding (Jenkins & Foster, 2014). Without observing, there might have been confounding variables such as frequency and length of breastfeeding (Jenkins & Foster, 2014).
  4. 4. 4 BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING Synthesis Jenkins and Foster (2014) had significant findings on the positive effects of breastfeeding in infancy and children. Research by Hahn-Holbrook, Haselton, Schetter & Glynn (2013) showed that breastfeeding not only has benefits for infants, but shows a relationship in the decline in the symptomology of depression in postpartum women and later in life. An additional study by Clarkson and A du Plessis (2011) shows that increased knowledge of the health benefits of breastfeeding increases the likelihood of people choosing to breastfeed. Similarities and Differences Among the Type of Research The similarities among research by Hahn-Holbrook et. al (2013) and Jenkins and Foster (2014) were they both used a quantitative, longitudinal study, using interviews to collect data whereas A du Plessis et. al (2011) used a qualitative questionnaire to conduct their study. Even though Hahn-Holbrook et. al’s study was on mothers and Jenkins et. al and A du Plessis et. al were on children, all three studies were similar indicating that the benefits of breastfeeding are multifactorial. Similarities and Differences Among Methods A du Plessis et. al’s (2011) study incorporated a Breastfeeding Treasure Box that included 14 items that represented a benefit of breastfeeding together with a lesson plan. In a session during the study participants would take an object from the box that was a benefit of breastfeeding and in turn this would encourage discussion, increase knowledge of the benefit and stimulate participants interest to find out more. Jenkins and Foster (2014) or Hahn-Holbrook et. al (2013) did not incorporate the use of additional tools besides interviews into their studies. Similarities and Differences Among Results
  5. 5. 5 BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING The results of Jenkins and Foster (2014) and Hahn-Holbrook et. al (2013) studies showed that there are benefits to breastfeeding. Hahn-Holbrook et. al found more substantial evidence that breastfeeding has a stronger impact on mothers emotional wellbeing and developing depression postpartum or later in life. Results of the study from A du Plessis et. al (2011) found that raising awareness on the health benefits of breastfeeding results in increased breastfeeding. Jenkins and Foster found research could support the more instantaneous benefits of breastfeeding in relation of immunity and nutrition. Application to Practice A du Plessis et. al’s (2011) study found that raising awareness of the health benefits of breastfeeding results in more women choosing to breastfeed. Therefore according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2015), nurses can help establish and implement policies and programs to ensure breastfeeding mothers have services in place prenatally and before discharge from the hospital. According to the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) (2015) prenatal classes can be used to help inform women about the health advantages of breastfeeding, both for babies and mothers, and instructors can explain to women the process and techniques they can use to breastfeed. This would help implement a solid foundation as to the importance of breastfeeding their newborn baby and the proper way to breastfeed. While in the hospital the HHS (2015) states it is important to, “give the mothers the support they need to breastfeed their babies” (HHS, 2015) this is where lactation nurses can come alongside the pregnant women and their families to implement teaching about breastfeeding that includes proper breastfeeding technique, positioning of the infant, and answering questions to alleviate any fears or concerns future mothers may have. Follow-up services can be made available with the lactation consultants to ensure mothers are feeling confident about continuing to
  6. 6. 6 BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING breastfeeding. HHS (2015) reports that successful initiation depends on experiences in the hospital as well as access to instruction on lactation from breastfeeding experts, particularly in the early postpartum period. This can be included in the standard of care for breastfeeding mothers so that all mothers are included in the teaching and practice not just new mothers. Nurses can also help encourage breastfeeding by working with hospital administration, doctors, and nurses to implement the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) founded by UNICEF and the WHO in 1997. Baby friendly hospitals increases rates of initial breastfeeding and provides resources and support which increases patient satisfaction (Baby-friendly USA, Inc., 2012). According to the baby friendly website 2012, there are 10 steps to successful breastfeeding some of these steps include; informing all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding, helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth, show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants, and not giving infants food or drink other than breast-milk, unless medically indicated (Baby-friendly USA, Inc., 2012). By implementing this program mothers and children would be well on their way to gaining the many benefits breastfeeding has to offer. Conclusion Studies by Jenkins and Foster (2014) demonstrated that it would be misleading to imply that there are definitive long-term benefits of breastfeeding for children, especially to cognition and health, but could support the immediate benefits of breastfeeding in terms of immunity and nutrition. However, both studies by Hahn-Holbrook et. al (2013) and A du Plessis et. al, (2011) showed significant benefits for mother and child. The information obtained from A du Plessis et.
  7. 7. 7 BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING al study shows that increased knowledge of the health benefits of breastfeeding increases the likelihood of mothers choosing to breastfeed. By implementing the BFHI into our hospitals, it will help initiate new policies and programs to support all mothers in breastfeeding their infants initially and for longer periods of time. By applying these tactics into practice there is potential for improving mother and child’s health immediately and decrease potential risks in the future.
  8. 8. 8 BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING References Baby-friendly USA, Inc. (2012). Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2013). Strategy 7. Access to breastfeeding education and information. 33-40. Retrieved from on.pdf. Clarkson, M. K., & A du Plessis, R. (2011). Discussion of the health benefits of breastfeeding within small groups. Community Practitioner, 84(1), 31-34. Department of Health and Human Services (US). The Surgeon General’s call to action to support breastfeeding. Washington: HHS, Office of the Surgeon General; 2011. Also available from: URL: calltoactiontosupportbreastfeeding.pdf [cited 2011 Jun 26]. Hahn-Holbrook, J., Haselton, M. G., Dunkel Schetter, C., & Glynn, L. M. (2013). Does breastfeeing offer protection against maternal depressive symptomatology? A prospective study from pregnancy to 2 years after birth. Womens Mental Health, 16, 411-422. Jenkins, J. M., & Foster, E. (2014). The effects of breastfeeding exclusivity on early childhood outcomes. American Journal of Public Health, 9(1), 40-47. World Health Organization (WHO). (2014). 10 facts on breastfeeding. Retrieved from