Aim To establish what attitudes, beliefs and behaviours paediatricians have around breast feeding and their role.
Methods As part of a wider project into A and E attendances by new-borns (under 28 day olds) the attitudes and beliefs of the paediatric team were assessed using a UK adapted version of the Freed Physician Attitudes To Breastfeeding Questionnaire(1995). This includes questions regarding the paediatricians role within breast feeding education and support, how paediatricians have been trained and their own experiences of breast feeding.
Results 38 out of 102 (37%) paediatricians responded. In regard to how well training has prepared them for their role in breastfeeding support, 20/38 (52%) felt that it was inadequate or worse; patient demand and personal experience were the largest drivers of attitudes; there was no consensus about the use of formula in the first two weeks of life and breast feeding failure, and whilst 19/38 (50%) agreed that breastfeeding was the most beneficial form of nutrition in the first 6 months of life, only 8/38 (20%) strongly agreed with this statement. With regards to meeting the needs of their patients, staff rated their effectiveness 5/10 (49%). 14/38 (38%) had breast fed their own child and 8/38 (20%) had mixed fed a child with 15/38 (40%) reporting this was not applicable to them.
Conclusion Paediatricians continue to be confused about their role in breast feeding, whilst being concerned and aware that patient demand results in their help being sought on this matter. The current guidance on exclusive breast feeding until 6 months and up to 2 years can be difficult to reinforce in an acute hospital setting. Training should emphasise the influence of personal experience on responding effectively to common parental feeding and infant questions that paediatricians will face in their careers.
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