New mothers report not receiving sufficient information on infant care from their physicians in a report published Monday in the Pediatrics journal.
Albeit there being guidelines on how to care for their newborns, new mothers are faced with having to dig them up for themselves. Physicians often lag behind on informing about the benefits of breastfeeding, or the temperature of the room the infant should be sleeping in, sleeping position of the infant, correct pacifier use or immunization.
The report drawing on the results of a survey funded by the National Institutes of Health and conducted on over 1,031 new mothers draws an alarm signal for physicians who, by withholding such information are contributing indirectly to infant diseases and even mortality.
According to the report, 20 percent of the new mothers surveyed stated that they hadn’t received information on breastfeeding, immunization or the infant’s sleep position that can drastically decrease the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
Half of the new mothers did not receive advice on whether it was safe to share a bed or a room with their newborn.
“As a physician, these findings made me stop and really think about how we communicate important information to new patients. From a public health perspective, there is a real opportunity to engage families and the media to promote infant health”,
stated Doctor Staci R. Eisenberg, pediatrician at Boston Medical Center and the first author of the report.
The survey responses were collected and compiled in data sets by a joint research team from the Yale University, Boston University and the Boston Medical Center. The 1,031 mothers taking part in the survey gave birth in 32 medical facilities across the U.S.
At the time of the survey, the infants of the participating mothers were aged between two and six months. The questions in the survey underlined medical advice received from nurses or doctors, as well as that sought in the media or specialty literature.
Indeed, when professional advice was offered, it fell in line with the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines. However, information on pacifier use or the importance of breastfeeding fell short of the guidelines in 10 to 15 percent of the cases.
Regarding sleep positions best fitted for the infant, 25 percent of the mothers reported receiving advice not consistent with the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines, or none at all.
Overall, white new mothers and those that had two or more children were less likely to receive physician advice than Hispanic or African American new mothers.
Drawing on the report, the medical community should improve communication with first-time mothers related to infant care. Doing so could save babies’ lives and considerably improve infant health.
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