Healthcare practitioner groups issued recommendations and guidelines on all these aspects of infant care.
“As a physician, these findings made me stop and really think about how we communicate important information to new parents,” said first author Staci R Eisenberg, a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center.
“Earlier studies have shown that new mothers listen to their physicians,” said Marian Willinger from pregnancy and perinatology branch at National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“This study shows that physicians have an opportunity to provide new mothers with much-needed advice on how to improve infant health and even save infant lives,” Willinger said in the journal Paediatrics.
The team surveyed a sample of over 1,000 new mothers, inquiring about infant care advice they received from doctors, nurses, family members and the news media.
Around 20 percent of mothers said they did not receive advice from their doctors regarding current recommendations on breastfeeding or on placing infants to sleep on their backs—a practice long proven to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
More than 50 percent of mothers reported they received no advice on where their infants should sleep. Room-sharing with parents, but not bed-sharing, is the recommended practice for safe infant sleep.
“We may need to be clearer and more specific in telling new mothers about safe sleep recommendations. From a public health perspective, there is a real opportunity to engage families and the media to promote infant health,” Eisenberg said.
The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.