The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for about six months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced, with continuation of breastfeeding for one year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant. The AAP also explicitly states that "medical contraindications to breastfeeding are rare".
Dr. Reena Oza-Frank's research focuses on the epidemiology of breastfeeding among infants typically considered to be at high risk: infants of mothers with diabetes during pregnancy and preterm infants. Breastfeeding behaviors and patterns in these populations have yet to be studied in the context of longer term maternal and infant outcomes. Her lab has been investigating research questions in this area with the ultimate goal of identifying early-life exposures, including during (and possibly prior to) pregnancy and infancy, that contribute to future risk of diabetes and obesity in both the mother and the offspring. The overall goal of her research is to develop nutrition and lifestyle interventions, leading to clinical practice recommendations, to improve health and quality of life and reduce future chronic disease risk among maternal and child health populations.
A specific study Dr. Oza-Frank is planning is to evaluate cross-sectional and longitudinal differences in inflammatory and/or growth factors in breast milk of women with and without gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and identify the relationship between these factors and infant growth. The proposed study will lead to the discovery of new information on the impact of GDM and related metabolic changes associated with breast milk hormones and early metabolic programming of the infant, such as future childhood obesity risk.
A related planned study will examine how breastfeeding behaviors and feeding patterns differ among women with and without GDM, again with the goal of determining how these differences may contribute to long term metabolic health of the infant.
Oza-Frank R. Postpartum Diabetes Testing Among Women with Recent Gestational Diabetes Mellitus: PRAMS 2009-2010. Maternal and Child Health Journal. 2013 Jun 18. [Epub ahead of print]
Oza-Frank R, Bhatia A, Smith C. Combined Peer Counselor and Lactation Consultant Support Increases Breastfeeding in the NICU. Breastfeeding Medicine. 2013 Aug 1. [Epub ahead of print]