Poorest families are being affected the most by a breastfeeding rate in decline
21 Jun 2013Diane Abbott MP, Labour’s shadow public health minister, warns that poorest families are being affected the most by breastfeeding rate in decline
Between 2004 and 2010/11 there was in each year a one per cent rise in the proportion of women who initiated breastfeeding. Then in 2010/11 to 2011/12 that rate of increase was just 0.3%. And in 2011/12 to 2012/13 there was a drop of 0/1%, the first recorded in almost a decade since these records began.
Meanwhile there remain stark geographical differences in terms of women continuing to breastfeed after 6 weeks. 19% of women do so in a place like Knowsley compared to 70% plus in Kensington and elsewhere.
Diane Abbott said:
‘These figures show the government is failing mothers and babies, and that the poorest families are being affected the most. It’s made worse because the government has absolutely no interest in it. It might not mean anything to David Cameron, but there needs to be work done to provide education and support that promotes breast feeding and the impact of breast feeding for the health of mothers and babies.
‘Jeremy Hunt should explain to families why the government has axed the annual week promoting breast feeding and why the Department of Health advisory committee on breast feeding no longer meets. The strain the government has put on our NHS means we’re now seeing overstretched midwives and health visitors struggling to maintain breast feeding levels among new mums.
‘I think we’ll end up with a situation where young mothers see expensive television ads every evening for milk formula, but no such promotion for the benefits of breast feeding. Breastfeeding needs to be recognised as a major public health issue from government level through to local children's centres, and appropriate support needs to be put in place to give mothers a better experience of breastfeeding. Much of the evidence suggests tackling this may save the NHS money in the long-term.’
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