Hertfordshire Community Health Services

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             in health

NOT breastfeeding - a Public Health issue!

Encouraging more mothers to breastfeed could save millions of pounds by reducing the burden of illness, says a report commissioned by UNICEF UK. The proportion of mothers in the UK who breastfeed their babies immediately after birth went up from 2005 and 2010 but overall,  only 21% of babies are being exclusively breastfed at six weeks, 7% at four months and 3% at five months. 

The strong evidence of the health risks associated with not breastfeeding makes this a major public health issue that requires investment and an organised and informed response.

Breast Feeding

Investment in supporting women to breastfeed will improve the quality of life for women and for children through reducing acute and chronic diseases. We know that the overwhelming majority of mothers who breastfeed stop before they want to, and therefore leadership and investment is needed in order to remove the barriers that prevent women from successfully breastfeeding for as long as they choose.

Low breastfeeding rates in the UK lead to an increased incidence of illness that has a significant cost to the health service.
Investment in effective services to increase and sustain breastfeeding rates is likely to provide a return within a few years.
Investing in supporting women to breastfeed will improve the quality of life for women through the reduction in incidence of breast cancer; and for children through reducing acute and chronic diseases.
Research into the extent of the burden of disease associated with low breastfeeding rates is hampered by data collection methods.

Investing in public health interventions, particularly at a time when funds are scarce, is challenging, as many of the potential financial savings accrue in the distant future. However, as shown in this report, many of the potential savings from breastfeeding support are likely to be realised over a much shorter time horizon. Investment to increase and sustain breastfeeding rates will provide a rapid financial return on investment.

Full report click here:

Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust, Unit 1a Howard Court, 14 Tewin Road, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL7 1BW, T. 01707 388000 F. 01707 321840