Doctor urges rethink on breastfeeding

Dr Brian Symon, a senior lecturer at the University of Adelaide, says there is clear evidence for the benefits of breastfeeding, "but limited evidence that these benefits are amplified by making it exclusive".

He wants Australian health authorities to rethink recommendations for six months of exclusive breast feeding.

This is because breast milk may not provide enough nutrition for some babies after four months.

The Australian guidelines are in line with World Health Organization recommendations.

In the lead-up to World Breastfeeding Week from 1 August, Dr Symon says he is seeing many young children with sleeping, feeding and weight-gain problems.

"Breastfeeding is extremely important for children's early life, but there is evidence that the emphasis on exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months may be linked to certain health problems," says Dr Symon, who led a two-year self-funded review of research.