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Am J Occup Ther. 2014 May-Jun;68(3):e90-6. doi: 10.5014/ajot.2014.009746.

Occupational therapy and breastfeeding promotion: our role in societal health.

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  • 1Jennifer S. Pitonyak, PhD, OTR/L, SCFES, is Vice Chair and Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, Samson College of Health Sciences, University of the Sciences, 600 South 43rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104;


Occupational therapists are part of multidisciplinary teams supporting infants with feeding and eating difficulties, including problems related to initiation and continuation of breastfeeding. We have the opportunity to expand our role in breastfeeding promotion by also defining breastfeeding as a child-rearing and health management and maintenance occupation and broadening our clientele to include health and wellness populations. The use of a health promotion approach enables occupational therapy practitioners to better address environmental and contextual barriers to engagement in breastfeeding, barriers also encountered by healthy populations. Healthy People 2020 calls for increased rates of exclusive breastfeeding in the United States, given evidence of the health benefits of breastfeeding for infants, women, and society. Occupational therapists are well positioned to assist individuals, organizations, and populations in establishing habits and routines supportive of continued breastfeeding while lessening environmental and contextual barriers. Occupational therapists should consider emerging practice opportunities as consultants for breastfeeding promotion.

Copyright © 2014 by the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.

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