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Uptake of breastfeeding beyond six months improves in Scotland

Wednesday 28th February 2018
An increasing number of new mothers in Scotland are choosing to breastfeed their babies beyond six months, a major new infant nutrition survey shows. Image: tacstef via iStock
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More new mothers in Scotland are choosing to breastfeed their babies, in many cases continuing to do so after the child has reached six months old.

New statistics from the Scottish Maternal and Infant Nutrition Survey 2017 - the first carried out since 2010 - show that the number of women breastfeeding for more than six months has increased markedly over the past few years. In 2010, under one-third (32 per cent) of mothers did so, but this had risen to 43 per cent last year.

Overall, 89 per cent of women said they were happy with the level of support they had received to be able to breastfeed, with just 23 per cent of respondents saying they'd been made to feel uncomfortable feeding their baby in a public place. Three per cent revealed that they'd been asked to stop doing so, indicating that more needs to be done to end the stigma surrounding breastfeeding in public.

What's more, the research found that 46 per cent of mothers in Scotland are waiting for at least six months to introduce foods to their babies - something that healthcare experts believe will go some way towards tackling childhood obesity.

However, 29 per cent of those questioned said they fed their eight to 12-month-old infants treats such as crisps, chocolate buttons or ice cream on a daily basis. Meanwhile, three per cent of mothers admitted to giving their babies tea to drink, despite this not being recommended for such young children.

Mary Ross-Davie, director of the Royal College of Midwives in Scotland, said she was "encouraged" to see that the the uptake of breastfeeding is continuing to increase throughout the country.

However, she highlighted that "inequalities between the least and most deprived women in our society persist, with women living in deprivation least like to breastfeed".

"This highlights the need to continue and redouble our efforts to support women in all communities to understand the benefits of breastfeeding and to be supported to breastfeed if they choose to do so," Ms Ross-Davie added.

Written by James Puckle

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