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Attitudes and practices of family paediatricians in Italy regarding infant feeding


G Radaelli, Ph.D., Department of Pediatrics, San Paolo Hospital, University of Milan, Via A di Rudinì 8, I-20142 Milan, Italy. Tel: +39-02-8135375 | Fax: +39-02-89122090 |


Aim:  The aim of this study was to examine attitudes and practices of family paediatricians in Italy towards infant feeding.

Methods:  A questionnaire was sent to 850 paediatricians across Italy, asking about attitudes and practices towards infant feeding with focus on the World Health Organization’s criteria.

Results:  The response rate was 91.2%. Breastfeeding is recommended for 6–11 months (70.6%) or longer (29.4%). A 95% of paediatricians recommend introducing complementary foods throughout 4–5.9 months. Among paediatricians who give indications about the minimum acceptable diet (61.7%), recommendations agree with WHO in 71.3% and 83.3% of cases for infants aged 6–8 or 9–11 months, respectively. A 95.6% of paediatricians recommend consumption of meat for infants aged 6 months or more, and 98.4% use of formula milk for infants having breastfeeding stopped in the first year of life. Paediatricians reported own experience (73.4%) and reading (54.2%) as main sources of information. A 70% of paediatricians know the WHO/Infant and Young Child Feeding Practices criteria regarding breastfeeding but <5% the complementary feeding indicators.

Conclusion:  Family paediatricians in Italy have positive disposition towards infant feeding but their knowledge and practices are suboptimal with respect to the WHO criteria, especially regarding complementary feeding.