Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 97, Issue 5, pp 412–414 | Cite as

The Problem with Breastfeeding Discourse

  • Stephanie J. KnaakEmail author


This paper reflects on how informational biases have subtly entered into the breastfeeding health discourse and recommends how focus might be redirected. Specifically, contemporary infant feeding health discourse reflects a biased representation of the scientific literature, and fails to provide an appropriate contextualization of risk and benefit. It is important to correct these biases in order to uphold the foundational ethics of expert-guided childcare, and to rightly reposition the discourse as a tool for influence via education, not informational manipulation. Correcting these biases would also ease the discursive pressure and associated emotional burdens mothers currently experience in relation to infant feeding, and would reinforce a needed commitment to the development of appropriate supports to help mothers viably exercise their right to breastfeed.

MeSH terms

Breastfeeding ethics health promotion health education public health practice 


Cet article est une réflexion sur l’insinuation de biais d’information dans le discours sur les bienfaits de l’allaitement pour la santé; nous recommandons aussi des moyens de réorienter ce discours. Plus précisément, le discours actuel sur la saine alimentation du nourrisson brosse un portrait tendancieux des publications scientifiques et n’offre pas une mise en contexte suffisante des risques et des avantages de l’allaitement. Il est important de corriger ces biais pour confirmer le fondement moral d’une puériculture fondée sur les conseils d’experts et pour faire du discours ce qu’il devrait être, c’est-à-dire un outil d’influence par la sensibilisation et non un exercice de manipulation de l’information. La correction de ces biais soulagerait aussi la pression exercée par le discours actuel et le fardeau psychologique subi par les mères en ce qui a trait à l’alimentation de leur nourrisson. Cela renforcerait un engagement nécessaire en faveur de l’élaboration de supports appropriés pour aider les mères à exercer dans la pratique leur droit d’allaiter.


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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