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Doctors Offer Little Advice to New Mothers

Physicians need to better communicate with mothers about the health of their children.

A survey funded by the National Institutes of Health has discovered that doctors offer little advice to new mothers in regards to infant care. Medical professionals have a long list of recommendations and possible guidelines to offer that may help a newborn child’s health or even save their lives, but yet a surprising amount of mothers are discharged without crucial advice.

The study inquired about infant care to 1,031 mothers gathered from 32 different hospitals, all with young children in between the ages of 2 and 6 months old. They were questioned on whether they had received guidance or advice from doctors after giving birth concerning matters such as breastfeeding, sleep positions, pacifiers and immunization for their children.

The statistics were indeed worrying and showed a lack of communication between new mothers and their physicians, who should be doing all they can to prevent accidents. Out of all the participants, 20% stated that they did not receive any advice regarding breastfeeding or the significance of placing their child to sleep on their backs.

One of the leading causes in newborns deaths is sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), yearly claiming 3,500 lives. Placing infant children to sleep on their backs severely decreases the risk of SIDS, with the stomach being the highest risk, followed by young mothers allowing their newborns to sleep on their side.

Over 50% of the new mothers did not receive any professional advice on where their child should sleep, while in the room but in a separate bed has long been proven to be the safest option, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The organization has offered many useful and beneficial guidelines for mothers to follow, but it seems in part doctors or nurses are neglecting to pass them on.

However, earlier studies have shown that, when advice is inquired, mothers listen to their physicians and doctors indeed have the opportunity of preventing accidents or the loss of lives. Fortunately, most of the advice offered seems to be well in line with the AAP guidelines and recommendations for infant care.

Only 10% to 15% of the advice offered on breastfeeding was inconsistent with the AAP guidelines and 25% regarding the infant’s sleep position or location. However, a worrying 85% of new mothers were advised to place their children on their backs or their side when sleeping, the latter of which increases the chance of SIDS.

Physicians, doctors or nurses need to provide better and more consistent advice to young mothers, and review the way they communicate with patients upon giving birth. They might be constrained by beliefs, chaotic work hours or disagreement with certain recommendations, but the study emphasized the need for more efficient informing which could save the lives of infants.

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