National Trends in Pediatricians' Practices and Attitudes About Breastfeeding: 1995 to 2014

Pediatrics. 2017 Oct;140(4):e20171229. doi: 10.1542/peds.2017-1229. Epub 2017 Sep 18.

Abstract

Background and objectives: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has affirmed breastfeeding as the preferred method of infant feeding; however, there has been little systematic examination of how pediatricians' recommendations, affiliated hospitals' policies, counseling practices, and attitudes toward breastfeeding have shifted over the past 2 decades. These trends were examined from 1995 to 2014.

Methods: Data are from the Periodic Survey (PS) of Fellows, a nationally representative survey of AAP members. PS #30 (1995; response rate = 72%; N = 832), PS #57 (2004; response rate = 55%; N = 675), and PS #89 (2014; response rate = 51%; N = 620) collected demographics, patient and practice characteristics, and detailed responses on pediatricians' recommendations, affiliated hospitals' policies, counseling practices, and attitudes toward breastfeeding. By using bivariate statistics and logistic regression models, the analysis investigated changes over time with predicted values (PVs).

Results: From 1995 to 2014, more pediatricians reported their affiliated hospitals applied for "baby-friendly" designation (PV = 12% in 1995, PV = 56% in 2014; P < .05), and more reported that they recommend exclusive breastfeeding (65% to 76% [P < .05]). However, fewer respondents indicated that mothers can be successful breastfeeding (PV = 70% in 1995, PV = 57% in 2014; P < .05) and that the benefits outweigh the difficulties (PV = 70% in 1995, PV = 50% in 2014; P < .05). Younger pediatricians were less confident than older pediatricians in managing breastfeeding problems (P < .01).

Conclusions: Pediatricians' recommendations and practices became more closely aligned with AAP policy from 1995 to 2014; however, their attitudes about the likelihood of breastfeeding success have worsened. These 2 divergent trends indicate that even as breastfeeding rates continue to rise, continued efforts to enhance pediatricians' training and attitudes about breastfeeding are necessary.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Distance Counseling / statistics & numerical data
  • Distance Counseling / trends
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organizational Policy
  • Pediatricians*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / trends*
  • United States