Editorials

Promoting breast feeding in the community

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.a2657 (Published 30 January 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:a2657
  1. Adriano Cattaneo, epidemiologist
  1. 1Health Services Research, Epidemiology and International Health, Institute for Maternal and Child Health, 34137 Trieste, Italy
  1. cattaneo{at}burlo.trieste.it

    Breastfeeding groups and peer counselling must be integrated into wider programmes

    Breast feeding has well known advantages for mothers and children, yet its rates are lower than recommended. Two linked randomised controlled trials assess the effectiveness of different approaches for promoting breast feeding in the United Kingdom.1 2

    Several international guidelines exist on how to improve the rates of breast feeding. The World Health Organization stresses the importance of developing community based support networks to help ensure appropriate feeding of infants and young children—for example, mother to mother support groups and peer or lay counsellors, to which hospitals and clinics can refer mothers on discharge.3

    The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends informal and practical education about breast feeding in the antenatal period and peer support programmes to increase rates of initiation and the duration of breast feeding in women on low incomes. It stresses the need for strategies to recruit and retain peer or volunteer supporters, including provision of formal salaries, paid incentives or honorary contract schemes, and supervision to ensure quality of the service.4

    Unicef …

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