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Moms Urged to Nurse for Full-Year

December 2, 1997

CHICAGO (AP) _ Mothers should breast-feed their babies for at least a year, according to a pediatric group’s recommendation that replaces a 15-year-old statement suggesting six to 12 months of nursing.

Feedings should begin within an hour of birth and continue eight to 12 times every 24 hours, with each feeding lasting 20 to 30 minutes, the American Academy of Pediatrics said Monday. And breast-feeding should continue past the child’s first birthday ``for as long as mutually desired,″ said the nation’s largest group of children’s doctors.

Almost all babies, including those born sick or prematurely, should be breast-fed, according to the new recommendation. The only exceptions should be for mothers who use illegal drugs or have tuberculosis or the AIDS virus, the academy said.

Critics said the new recommendations and the huge commitment they require _ up to 6 hours a day _ may be out of touch with reality.

``I think these guidelines will present a problem for new mothers who have no choice but to go back into the work force quickly,″ said Janice Rocco of the National Organization for Women. ``They might already feel guilty about working, and this might add even more to that.″

Companies can help by providing private rooms where nursing mothers can pump their breasts so their milk can be bottled, refrigerated and fed to their babies later, said the academy, based in the Chicago area.

Research has shown that breast-fed babies are less likely to get such ailments as diarrhea, ear infections and bacterial meningitis than babies who are fed infant formula. Some studies suggest nursing also may protect against such diseases as diabetes, lymphoma and allergies.

Also, mothers who breast-feed reduce their risk of ovarian and premenopausal breast cancer, and they return to their pre-pregnancy weight more quickly than mothers who use bottles, studies show.

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