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The Australian National University

Anne Barnhill (UPenn): "Natural" in breastfeeding promotion

Date and time

Mon, 14/08/2017 - 12:30 - 14:00


Coombs Seminar Room A

Promoting breastfeeding is a major goal of national and international health organizations.  Materials that promote breastfeeding often reference the health and developmental benefits of breastfeeding; they also sometimes refer to breastfeeding or breast milk as “natural.” In 2016, I co-authored a paper cautioning against use of “natural” language in breastfeeding promotion by public health and medical bodies. We argued that selling breastfeeding as “natural” is unclear communication. We also argued that it is imprudent, because it may reinforce the perspective that natural options are presumptively safer and better, a view that works at cross purposes to public health and medicine in other contexts, such as childhood vaccination. This talk discusses that 2016 paper and the response to it.

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