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"Breastfeeding in the information age" - personal advice is still the most important source of information!

31/2001, 27.09.2001

The first week of October is this year's world breastfeeding week. It comes under the banner "breastfeeding in the information age". This gives the National Committee for the Promotion of Breastfeeding in the Federal Institute for Health Protection of Consumers and Veterinary Medicine (BgVV) an opportunity to draw attention to the information brochures and sources of the National Breastfeeding Committee and to stress the fundamental need for timely and expert information about breastfeeding. The recommendation of the National Breastfeeding Committee within BgVV is clear: all children should if possible be breastfed - if at all possible exclusively breastfed up to six months without any weaning food and after that for as long as mother and child want, coupled with the administration of weaning food.

Today, there are far more sources of information for mothers wishing to and already breastfeeding than there used to be thanks to the media, press, television, information brochures and the Internet. That is certainly helpful. However, these sources of information can merely accompany but not replace personal and practical advice. Only in one-to-one discussions is it possible to react to the special situation of a pregnant woman and to answer her concrete questions. In practice, the advantages of a personal talk are unfortunately used far less frequently than they should be. The first nationwide study on breastfeeding and infant nutrition in Germany, conducted by the Research Institute for Children's Nutrition in Dortmund 1997/98, has shown that most pregnant women obtain their information about breastfeeding solely from written material. The National Breastfeeding Commission, therefore, appeals to all those involved in the health services not to rely solely on the wide offering of written information when it is a matter of choosing the best form of infant nutrition but to place the emphasis on personal advice.

The National Breastfeeding Commission has drawn up inserts with breastfeeding information for the maternity logbook and the early detection examination record which it can make available to all interested parties in four languages at present. In the last 12 months 150,000 copies of the two different inserts were sent out. Mainly in German but also in Turkish, Russian and Italian. In theory, therefore, many pregnant women must have received this information.

The National Breastfeeding Committee appeals in this context to doctors in practices and clinics to hand over these information sheets personally and to insert them in the maternity logbook or the child's examination record. They should not be placed side by side with information material about artificial infant formula in doctors' practices or clinics for patients to help themselves! According to § 4 para 4 of the Act on Advertising for Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula, it is prohibited to distribute materials and items free of charge which directly serve to advertise such products. This also applies to "distribution" by doctors, midwives and care staff. The National Breastfeeding Committee explicitly points out once again these statutory constraints.

All information and recommendations of the National Breastfeeding Committee can be found on the BgVV Homepage ( under Institute/Advisory Committees and can be downloaded from there.

The inserts for the maternity logbook and the child's examination record are available in German, Turkish, Russian and Italian. They can be obtained free of charge by writing to the address given below:
Geschäftsstelle der Nationalen Stillkommission am BgVV
Thielallee 88-92
14195 Berlin
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