Volume 115, Issue 3, Pages 444-449 (March 2015)
It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that exclusive breastfeeding provides optimal nutrition and health protection for the first 6 months of life, and that breastfeeding with complementary foods from 6 months until at least 12 months of age is the ideal feeding pattern for infants. Breastfeeding is an important public health strategy for improving infant and child morbidity and mortality, improving maternal morbidity, and helping to control health care costs. Research continues to support the positive effects of human milk on infant and maternal health, as it is a living biological fluid with many qualities not replicable by human milk substitutes. Recent research advancements include a greater understanding of the human gut microbiome, the protective effect of human milk for premature infants and those born to women experiencing gestational diabetes mellitus, the relationship of breastfeeding with human immunodeficiency virus, and the increased ability to characterize cellular components of human milk. Registered dietitian nutritionists and nutrition and dietetics technicians, registered, should continue efforts to shift the norm of infant feeding away from use of human milk substitutes and toward human milk feeds.