The first UK conference to address the benefits of breastfeeding for babies with developmental disabilities will be hosted by the University of Hertfordshire next week.
Dr Roja Sooben at the University's School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work has organised the conference called, Breastfeeding infants with developmental disabilities - let's talk about it!, which will take place at the University on 11th May. In addition, the Down 's Syndrome Association will stage a photographic exhibition called Shifting Perspectives to coincide with the conference.
According to Dr Sooben, who carried out research into the experience of new mothers with babies with Down syndrome, there was an assumption from health professionals that these babies would not have the ability to breastfeed.
"We know that breastfeeding not only helps mothers and babies to bond but also provides considerable health benefits to the newborn," said Dr Sooben. "Babies with Down syndrome often present with many actual and potential health complications and so we need to give these mothers the right advice and support so that they are empowered to seek out and secure the best healthy start in life for their babies. Such mothers are often being marginalised because of poor understanding of the health needs of their babies and so it is particularly important to emphasise the benefits of breast milk for these groups."
The one day conference will focus on examples of good practice from the perspectives of parents and health care professionals; the ultimate aim is to engage in the necessary debates towards more inclusive practice.
It will be of interest to new parents, particularly mothers of babies with disabilities, breastfeeding coordinators, researchers and academics, health visitors, speech and language therapists, midwifery and primary health care practitioners and students.