Are we adequately providing support services for optimal infant nutrition in Australia? A study in regional NSW
Evidence from the literature suggests that parents of infants in Australia may not be receiving appropriate professional assistance to support best practice in infant feeding. This study aimed to investigate whether services for infant nutrition (including breastfeeding, infant formula feeding and support for at-risk infants) complied with current recommendations. Relevant services in a regional area of NSW completed a questionnaire to characterise the assistance they provided for parents of infants in the first 6 months of life. Services for breastfeeding, unlike services for use of infant formula, were consistent with recommendations in the literature. Services were significantly more likely to provide education (χ2 (1, n = 44) = 5.939, P < 0.025) and various forms of professional support (χ2 (1, n = 44) = 20.29, P < 0.0001) for breastfeeding compared with infant formula. At-risk infants were mostly identified through growth monitoring, and extra support services were mostly provided on site. Parents of at-risk infants were encouraged to attend services; strategies included involving family in consultations, offering multiple services on site, free services and home visits. Other important measures recommended in the literature, such as providing continuous care from the antenatal period and transport, were provided infrequently.