Latest figures show that the breastfeeding rate for England for 2016/17 is 44.4%. This is based on 142 out of 150 reporting local authorities who provided sufficient quarterly data for annual figures to be calculated. This compares to 43.1% in 2015/16, and to 43.8% for 2014/15 based on data collected by NHS England.
In response to this newly published data, Professor Mary Fewtrell, Nutrition Lead for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said:
“There has been a minor improvement in the number of women breastfeeding at six to eight weeks but numbers are still very low, especially when compared to countries like Norway which achieves rates of 71% at six to eight weeks.
“Typically, the number of women who start breastfeeding in the UK is high, sitting at around 80%, however this number plummets after a couple of weeks. We know this is due to a number of factors including a lack of local support thanks to services falling victim to public health cuts, inconsistent messaging from healthcare professionals, social stigma and lack of family support.
“To improve breastfeeding rates we urgently need Government show they take this seriously and invest in local support so that the health benefits to mother and baby can be realised.”