Dads play key role in supporting breastfeeding, safe infant sleep: Study

San Francisco: Fathers can make a huge difference in the health and well-being of their infants by supporting breastfeeding and safe sleep practices, a new study has shown.

According to the study published in the journal Pediatrics, among fathers who wanted their infant’s mother to breastfeed, 95 percent reported breastfeeding initiation, and 78 percent reported breastfeeding at eight weeks.

It is significantly higher than the 69 percent of fathers who had no opinion or did not want their infant’s mother to breastfeed – 69 percent of these fathers reported breastfeeding initiation and 33 percent reported breastfeeding at eight weeks.

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The study included 250 fathers who were surveyed two to six months after the birth of their infant.

“Our findings underscore that new fathers are a critical audience to promote breastfeeding and safe infant sleep,” said lead study author Dr John James Parker, an instructor of paediatrics at Northwestern University in the US.

“Many families do not gain the health benefits from breastfeeding because they are not provided the support to breastfeed successfully. Fathers need to be directly engaged in breastfeeding discussions, and providers need to describe the important role fathers play in breastfeeding success,” he added.

Moreover, the scientists also found that 99 percent of fathers reported placing their infant to sleep, but only 16 percent implemented all three infant sleep practices (using the back sleep position, an approved sleep surface, and avoiding soft bedding).

Almost a third of fathers surveyed were missing at least one key component of safe sleep education.

In the US, over 3,000 infants die as a result of sleep-related causes each year.

According to the study authors, the rate of sudden unexpected infant death (SIDS) in Black infants is more than twice that of White infants, and unsafe sleep practices may contribute to this disparity.

“Fathers need to receive counselling on all the safe sleep practices for their infants,” Parker said.

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