Background and Objective
The most recent American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement clearly supports breastfeeding for smoking mothers. The impact of this recommendation on pediatricians' counseling and prescribing practices is unclear. This study describes Pennsylvania pediatricians' attitudes, knowledge, and practices regarding breastfeeding, maternal smoking, and smoking cessation.
A descriptive study was conducted using a web-based, anonymous survey. The survey consisted of three clinical vignettes followed by knowledge and attitude questions.
Among 296 respondents, more than half reported one or more conversations about breastfeeding and smoking in the past year. Most were comfortable counseling on breastfeeding, but few were comfortable counseling about smoking and breastfeeding. Respondents scored poorly on five knowledge items; 27% answered zero items correctly, and only 21% answered four or five items correctly. Less than half reported breastfeeding was safe for smoking mothers. Compared to pediatricians with high knowledge scores, those with a low score were less likely to tell a smoking mother that breastfeeding is safe (38% vs. 69%, p < 0.01) and more likely to recommend formula feeding (19% vs. 3%, p < 0.01). Most pediatricians were uncertain about the safety of nicotine replacement therapy and bupropion (Zyban®, GalxoSmithKline, Research Triangle Park, NC) with breastfeeding.
Pennsylvania pediatricians lack knowledge and comfort related to the topic of breastfeeding and maternal smoking. Additional efforts to inform and educate pediatricians on the subjects of breastfeeding, maternal tobacco use, and smoking cessation products are needed.