In an updated position paper, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics stated that breastfeeding provides the best nutrition for infants and very young children. The position paper, “Promoting and Supporting Breastfeeding,” is published in the Journal of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Specifically, the paper states that exclusive breastfeeding is optimal nutrition for the first 6 months, and that breastfeeding with complementary foods is ideal for infants 6 months to at least 12 months of age. In addition, the paper includes the health risks of not breastfeeding such as higher rates of infant and maternal morbidity and mortality, as well as increased healthcare costs and economic losses for families and employers. The authors also mention that human milk contains components that cannot be produced in infant formula.

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Although rates of breastfeeding are improving, young women, low-income women, women in certain regions of the United States, and African-American women still have the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the country. In general, the updated paper supports providing breast milk as the optimal way to nurse babies.

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