Breastfeeding continues to steadily increase in the US, with 83.2% of infants in 2019 breastfed for some duration. Strong evidence supports health benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and infants. Indeed, human milk is considered the ideal source of nutrition for infants worldwide. Despite this, there are significant knowledge gaps in our understanding of the nutritional composition of human milk.
Without better knowledge of this infant food that for many represents the only food or fluid for the first six months of life, community, clinical and research RDNs remain challenged in defining and implementing best practices for infant nutrition. In fact, this knowledge gap impairs infant nutrition for both breastfed infants and even infants who receive nutrition through breastmilk substitutes modeled on our understanding of human milk.
This session, guided by human milk experts, discusses current limitations of our human milk composition understanding; summarize the best available evidence regarding human milk macronutrient, micronutrients, and bioactive factors; identify important directions of future research, including areas where RDNs have unique contributions; and translate the implications of this information for RDNs whose practice includes lactating women and any infant, breastfed or otherwise.
CPE Level: Level 2 (intermediate knowledge/experience)
- 8.1.5 Demonstrates knowledge of nutrient requirements throughout the lifespan, and their role in health promotion and disease prevention.
- 12.1.3 Collaborates with community partners and stakeholders in promoting health and disease prevention.
- 4.1.2 Interprets and integrates evidence-based research and literature in decision-making.
- Describe limitations of understanding of human milk composition
- Identify research barriers RDNs can help mitigate
- Apply evidence-based practice for RDNs working with women and infants in the infant feeding realm
- Paige Berger
- Maryanne Perrin
- Joann McDermid