Breast milk is the nutrition of choice for human infants (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2005; American Association of Family Physicians, 2008; Association of Women’s Health Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, 2005; Canadian Paediatric Society, 2005; U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, 2008; World Health Organization, 2009). The literature on the benefits of breast milk and breastfeeding for infants and mothers has established multiple positive outcomes for infants (Hoddinott, Tappin, & Wright, 2008; Horta, Bahl, Martines, & Victora, 2007; Ip et al., 2007). Breast milk has advantages for infants that distinguish it from standard commercial infant formulas. These advantages include growth factors, hormones, immunological factors, and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. For infants with phenylketonuria (PKU), breast milk has additional advantages over any standard commercial infant formula, such as a lower concentration of protein and a lower content of the amino acid, phenylalanine. Despite these benefits, some clinics encourage mothers of infants with PKU to breastfeed whereas others present breastfeeding as an unacceptable option. Although the possible risks and benefits of breastfeeding infants with PKU have been discussed, there is limited research and practice describing breastfeeding infants with PKU. As a result, breastfeeding infants with PKU is based more upon limited clinical experiences rather than upon evidence based practice that aims to apply the best scientific evidence gained from research to clinical decision making.
Published in Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 2012, 27(4), pp. 319–327