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Birth. 2000 Mar;27(1):49-53.

Resident physicians' knowledge of breastfeeding and infant growth.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland 97201-3098, USA.



It is well documented that breastfed infants grow differently from formula-fed infants. The purpose of this study was to assess resident physicians' knowledge of breastfeeding and infant growth.


A cross-sectional, self-administered survey was administered to family medicine and pediatric resident physicians from three large, hospital-based public and private programs in North Carolina.


One hundred and seven (46%) of 235 residents completed the study, representing 55 percent of family medicine residents and 39 percent of pediatric residents. Ninety-nine percent of participants reported frequently or always plotting infant growth at well-child visits. None reported plotting breastfed babies on a chart specific to breastfeeding. Only 5 percent of participants knew that breastfed infants grew at a slower velocity than formula-fed infants after 4 months of age. This knowledge was not significantly related to specialty, year of training, or gender; it was significantly related to breastfeeding experience (p < 0.04). Of the residents who did not have personal experience with breastfeeding, 99 percent answered incorrectly compared with 88 percent of those who had some personal experience in breastfeeding.


In this sample of family medicine and pediatric residents, almost all were unaware that breastfed infants grow at slower rates after 4 months of age. Since the frequency of breastfeeding is increasing in the United States, it is important that physicians be able to monitor the growth of breastfed infants accurately and provide expert counseling for breastfeeding mothers.

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