Health Professional Knowledge of Breastfeeding: Are the Health Risks of Infant Formula Feeding Accurately Conveyed by the Titles and Abstracts of Journal Articles?




Smith, Julie
Dunstone, Mark
Elliott-Rudder, Megan

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International Lactation Consultant Association


Effective promotion of breastfeeding is constrained if health professionals' knowledge on its importance is deficient. This study asks whether formula feeding is named as the risk factor in published research or whether it is considered the unspoken norm. A systematic analysis is conducted of the information content of titles and abstracts of 78 studies that report poorer health among formula-fed infants. This shows a surprising silence in the studies examined; formula is rarely named in publication titles or abstracts as an exposure increasing health risk. In 30% of cases, titles imply misleadingly that breastfeeding raises health risk. Only 11% of abstracts identify formula feeding as a health risk exposure. Initiatives to increase breastfeeding have described the importance of accurate language and well-informed health professional support. If widespread, this skew in communication of research findings may reduce health professionals' knowledge and support for breastfeeding.



Keywords: accuracy; article; artificial milk; attitude to breast feeding; breast feeding education; child health care; clinical effectiveness; female; health care delivery; health education; health hazard; health personnel attitude; health practitioner; health prom Attitudes; Breastfeeding; Clinician support; Communication; Delivery of health care; Health education; Health knowledge; Health personnel; Health promotion; Health services; Practice



Journal of Human Lactation


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