Conflicting advice confuses new moms

New mothers get conflicting advice from medical professionals, family members and the media when it comes to key parenting topics, a recent study found. And that advice often goes against American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations for breast-feeding, vaccines, pacifier use and infant sleep.

“In order for parents to make informed decisions about their baby’s health and safety, it is important that they get information, and that the information is accurate,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Staci Eisenberg, a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center. “We know from prior studies that advice matters.”

The researchers surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. mothers. Their children were between 2 months and 6 months old. Researchers asked the mothers what advice they had been given on a variety of topics, including vaccines, breast-feeding, pacifiers and infant sleep position and location. Mothers got most of their advice from doctors. But much of that advice contradicted the recommendations of the AAP on these topics.

For example, as much as 15 percent of the advice mothers received from doctors on breast-feeding and on pacifiers didn’t match recommendations. Similarly, 26 percent of advice about sleeping positions contradicted recommendations. And nearly 29 percent of mothers got misinformation on where babies should sleep, the study found. It was published in Pediatrics.

The authors say that most doctors do provide good advice and should be an important source of information, but recommend following up with them if that advice is unclear or confusing.

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