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Ethical Issues in Breastfeeding and Lactation Interventions: A Scoping Review


Subramani, Supriya; Vinay, Rasita; März, Julian W; Hefti, Michaela; Biller-Andorno, Nikola (2024). Ethical Issues in Breastfeeding and Lactation Interventions: A Scoping Review. Journal of Human Lactation, 40(1):150-163.

Abstract

Background: Infant feeding interventions that promote and support breastfeeding are considered important contributions to global public health. As these interventions often target private settings (e.g., individuals’ homes) and involve vulnerable populations (e.g., pregnant women, infants, and underprivileged families), a keen awareness of ethical issues is crucial.
Research Aim: The purpose of this scoping review was to capture the key elements of the current ethical discourse regarding breastfeeding and lactation interventions. Method: A scoping review was conducted using Arksey and O’Malley’s (2005) methodology to identify the ethical issues of breastfeeding and lactation interventions as they are reflected in the scholarly literature published between January 1990 and October 2022. Abstracts ( N = 3715) from PubMed, ScienceDirect, JSTOR and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews were screened. The final sample consisted of 26 publications.
Results: The recurring ethical issues identified in these studies were: the normative assumptions of motherhood; maternal autonomy and informed choice; information disclosure, balancing risks and benefits, and counseling practices; stigma and social context; ethics of health communication in breastfeeding campaigns; and the ethical acceptability of financial incentives in breastfeeding interventions.
Conclusion: This review illustrated that, while a wide range of ethical arguments were examined, the emphasis has been primarily on accounting for mothers’ experiences and lactating persons’ choices, as well as achieving public health objectives relating to infant nutrition in breastfeeding interventions. To effectively and ethically implement breastfeeding and lactation interventions, we must consider the social, economic, and cultural contexts in which they occur. One key learning identified was that women’s experiences were missing in these interventions and, in response, we suggest moving beyond the dichotomous approach of individual health versus population health.

Abstract

Background: Infant feeding interventions that promote and support breastfeeding are considered important contributions to global public health. As these interventions often target private settings (e.g., individuals’ homes) and involve vulnerable populations (e.g., pregnant women, infants, and underprivileged families), a keen awareness of ethical issues is crucial.
Research Aim: The purpose of this scoping review was to capture the key elements of the current ethical discourse regarding breastfeeding and lactation interventions. Method: A scoping review was conducted using Arksey and O’Malley’s (2005) methodology to identify the ethical issues of breastfeeding and lactation interventions as they are reflected in the scholarly literature published between January 1990 and October 2022. Abstracts ( N = 3715) from PubMed, ScienceDirect, JSTOR and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews were screened. The final sample consisted of 26 publications.
Results: The recurring ethical issues identified in these studies were: the normative assumptions of motherhood; maternal autonomy and informed choice; information disclosure, balancing risks and benefits, and counseling practices; stigma and social context; ethics of health communication in breastfeeding campaigns; and the ethical acceptability of financial incentives in breastfeeding interventions.
Conclusion: This review illustrated that, while a wide range of ethical arguments were examined, the emphasis has been primarily on accounting for mothers’ experiences and lactating persons’ choices, as well as achieving public health objectives relating to infant nutrition in breastfeeding interventions. To effectively and ethically implement breastfeeding and lactation interventions, we must consider the social, economic, and cultural contexts in which they occur. One key learning identified was that women’s experiences were missing in these interventions and, in response, we suggest moving beyond the dichotomous approach of individual health versus population health.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Obstetrics and Gynecology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Obstetrics and Gynecology
Language:English
Date:1 February 2024
Deposited On:09 Jan 2024 12:49
Last Modified:31 Mar 2024 01:37
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN:0890-3344
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/08903344231215073
PubMed ID:38087449
Project Information:
  • : FunderFamily Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)