The Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation (FLRF) and the University of Western Australia (UWA) have just released a new clinical tool to help medical practitioners resolve lactation challenges and support breastfeeding mothers: LactaMap. Featuring content developed by UWA, the online resource offers a wealth of evidence-based information to advance understanding of human lactation, ensure consistent care for breastfeeding mothers and their infants, and prevent dissemination of conflicting advice.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends mothers exclusively breastfeed infants for the first six months to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Unfortunately, according to the WHO, only 38 percent of infants aged zero to six months are exclusively breastfed. Research published in the 2016 Lancet Series for Breastfeeding shows medical practitioners can play an important role in supporting breastfeeding mothers. Nevertheless, medical practitioners at all levels report they are not receiving the education needed to support the knowledge and skills required to do so.
LactaMap aims to help fill these gaps. With a grant of more than $1 million (AUD) from FLRF, LactaMap content was researched and developed by the LactaResearch Group at UWA under the leadership of Senior Research Fellow Melinda Boss and Emeritus Professor Peter Hartmann. The clinical tool functions as a decision support system, helping practitioners rapidly navigate its wealth of information with an intuitive care pathway to appropriate, evidence-based clinical information for their patients. LactaMap is free of charge and available to medical practitioners in any country.
“Lactation completes the reproductive cycle. Yet when difficulties occur, there generally is no medical doctor specialized in lactating breasts that a breastfeeding mother can turn to for help—unlike for difficulties with other major organs,” said Boss. “As an online tool that allows translation of new research into practice soon after publication, LactaMap aims to change that.”
LactaMap contains more than 100 evidence-based clinical practice guidelines, LactaPedia (a glossary of lactation for science and medicine) and 21 information sheets that can be printed or e-mailed to patients.
“LactaMap provides relevant, state-of-the-art clinical practice guidelines with medical care plan options, as well as a framework defining normality to assist medical practitioners in decision making for patients with lactation concerns,” said Dr. Katharina Lichtner, managing director, FLRF. “Online and soon also available as an app, LactaMap
is a real-time, border-free resource for point-of-care consultations with patients.”
“We are delighted to have joined UWA on another fruitful project, one that follows and builds on LactaPedia,” noted Göran Larsson, chairman of the board, FLRF. “It’s heartening to be involved in the creation of this important evidence-based clinical resource. As it evolves, we anticipate LactaMap will serve not only practicing professionals, but those in training as well.”
LactaMap is being evaluated for further development as a case-based learning tool for teaching at medical and health care schools. With its ability to answer specific questions and support resolution of lactation and breastfeeding difficulties for mothers and infants, LactaMap has the potential to become a widely used resource that can contribute to the global increase in breastfeeding rates.
LactaMap has been appraised against the Agree II Instrument, the international gold standard for practice guidelines evaluation and development, and is now online: www.lactamap.com.