Health care practitioner groups have issued recommendations and guidelines on several aspects of infant care such as sleep position, breastfeeding, immunization and pacifier use. However, many new mothers do not receive this advice from physicians, revealed a new study.
First author Staci R. Eisenberg, a paediatrician at Boston Medical Center, said, "As a physician, these findings made me stop and really think about how we communicate important information to new parents."
Marian Willinger from pregnancy and perinatology branch at National Institutes of Health (NIH) said, "Earlier studies have shown that new mothers listen to their physicians. This survey shows that physicians have an opportunity to provide new mothers with much-needed advice on how to improve infant health and even save infant lives."
The research team surveyed a sample of over 1,000 new mothers, inquiring about infant care advice they received from doctors, nurses, family members and the news media. Around 20% of mothers said that they did not receive advice from their doctors regarding current recommendations on breastfeeding or on placing infants to sleep on their backs, a practice long proven to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). More than 50% of mothers reported they received no advice on where their infants should sleep. Room-sharing with parents, but not bed-sharing, is the recommended practice for safe infant sleep.
Eisenberg said, "We may need to be clearer and more specific in telling new mothers about safe sleep recommendations. From a public health perspective, there is a real opportunity to engage families and the media to promote infant health."
The study appears in the Pediatrics.