The Effectiveness of the Internet in Improving Breastfeeding Outcomes: A Systematic Review
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Breastfeeding is the normal and safest way to nurture an infant, and prolonged exclusive breastfeeding duration to 6 months will yield the greatest gains in optimum infant development. Despite this knowledge fewer than 35% of infants worldwide are exclusively breastfed during the first 4 months of life. With the advent of the Internet has been the development of many varied e-Health interventions. Using the Internet to support breastfeeding is a relatively novel method of health intervention in an area which has traditionally always been face-to-face. The aim of this article is to review the literature on the provision of Internet-based breastfeeding information and support intervention programs. A systematic literature review of current evidence was conducted using the electronic databases CINAHL (via EBSCOhost), Medline, Current Contents, PsycINFO, and Web of Knowledge for English-language publications from 2000 to May 2013. Inclusion criteria limited interventions to those delivered to women of childbearing age who accessed the Internet to source breastfeeding information and support. Only studies reporting breastfeeding outcomes (eg, breastfeeding duration) were included. A total of 1379 articles with citations and abstracts were identified as potentially relevant after searching the identified databases. One study was eligible for inclusion and reported positive outcomes, however methodological issues limit the interpretation of these results. Numerous study limitations and problems with scientific rigor make it difficult to extend study findings to antenatal and postnatal care. More rigorous evidence is needed before breastfeeding Internet interventions replace traditional methods of support and education for women intending to breastfeed.
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