TUESDAY, Oct. 25, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors should provide breast-feeding support and guidance to new mothers and pregnant women, an expert panel says.
This includes education about the benefits of breast-feeding, encouragement and practical help on how to breast-feed, according to the new U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation.
Primary care providers should help women make an informed choice about breast-feeding, the panel said.
"Breast-feeding has real health benefits for babies and their mothers. Primary care clinicians can help new moms who breast-feed be successful," said task force member Ann Kurth, dean of the Yale School of Nursing in New Haven, Conn.
"Primary care interventions to support breast-feeding are effective in increasing both the number of mothers who breast-feed and how long they breast-feed their babies," she added in a task force news release.
Breast-feeding offers health benefits for mothers and infants, the task force said. Breast-fed babies are less likely to have ear infections, or to develop chronic health problems such as asthma, obesity and diabetes. For mothers, breast-feeding is associated with a lower risk of breast and ovarian cancer and type 2 diabetes.
The task force is an independent, volunteer panel of medical experts that makes evidence-based recommendations about preventive health services such as screening, counseling and medications.
The new recommendation was published Oct. 25 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The U.S. Office on Women's Health has more about breast-feeding.