Scotland

Summit to encourage more Scots mums to breastfeed

breastfeeding Image copyright Thinkstock

Encouraging more women to breastfeed their babies will be the focus of a Scottish Government summit in the New Year.

The event, entitled Shifting the Curve - Sharing the Challenge, is aimed at addressing the relatively static rates of breastfeeding in Scotland over the last decade.

Figures show 48.4% of babies were breastfed at around ten days old in 2013/14, compared with 44.4% in 2004/05.

The data shows a trend towards babies being fed both breast and formula milk, as well as a decline in breastfeeding by the six to eight week stage.

Experts in the field will come together to share the latest evidence on the benefits of breastfeeding, review what is working well and identify ways to drive up rates.

A key focus will be on increasing rates of breastfeeding in the most deprived areas in order to help reduce health inequalities.

Mothers in the wealthiest areas are nearly three times as likely to exclusively breastfeed at six to eight weeks, compared with those in the most deprived areas.

Public health minister Maureen Watt said: "Breastfeeding has major health benefits, in the short and longer term, for both mother and baby. That is why the Scottish Government continues to promote it as the best source of nutrition for babies.

"We know it is important to understand the factors which influence a mother's infant feeding decision and develop effective strategies to encourage more women to breastfeed.

"Research shows that women who know about the health benefits of breastfeeding are more likely to start, therefore it's essential that in the antenatal period the health benefits of breastfeeding are discussed and explained to all women."

Earlier this month, a study by Unicef concluded increasing the time women breastfeed could save the NHS millions of pounds by improving the health of mother and baby.

The summit will be held on 24 February at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh.

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