25 October 2018
It has been widely reported this week that breastfeeding rates at 6-8 weeks in England have fallen for the second year running.
Although questions remain regarding the comparability of England’s data, it is still apparent that breastfeeding rates need to be increased significantly if we are to improve infant and maternal health. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months and thereafter alongside complementary foods for two years and beyond, based on extensive and resounding evidence that breastfeeding has a profound impact on health outcomes.
Recent surveys of England’s Infant Feeding Leads by Unicef UK show that support for breastfeeding at a local level continues to fall due to cuts to services and highlight the need for national leadership on infant feeding.
Our Call to Action campaign calls on UK governments to take a more strategic approach to improving breastfeeding rates, including:
- Developing a National Infant Feeding Strategy Board in each of the four nations, including members from all relevant government departments and tasked with developing a comprehensive National Infant Feeding Strategy and implementation plan.
- Including actions to promote, protect and support breastfeeding in all policy areas where breastfeeding has an impact.
- Implementing evidence-based initiatives that support breastfeeding, including the Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative, across all maternity, health visiting, neonatal and children’s centre services.
- Protecting babies and their families from harmful commercial interests by adopting, in full, the International Code of Marketing Breastmilk Substitutes (“the Code”).
Add your voice to the campaign.
Public Health England, Breastfeeding at 6 to 8 weeks after birth: annual data
Shereen Fisher (Breastfeeding Network), Response to Guardian article Wednesday 24th October – Breastfeeding rate declines in England as advice goes unheeded
The Guardian, Breastfeeding rate declines in England as advice goes unheeded