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Local data on 6-8 weeks breastfeeding rates

  • Last modified date:
    11 March 2009
Mother breastfeeding her baby

The Government wants to encourage and support mothers to increase the duration of breastfeeding and introduced prevalence of breastfeeding at 6-8 weeks as a key indicator of Child health and Wellbeing PSA with parents getting help and support with breastfeeding in hospitals and in the community from health visiting and midwifery teams, General Practices, Child Health services and Children’s centres.

There is clear evidence that breastfeeding has positive health benefits for both mother and baby in the short- and longer-term (beyond the period of breastfeeding).  Breastmilk is the best form of nutrition for infants and exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months (26 weeks) of an infant's life.  Thereafter breastfeeding should continue for as long as the mother and baby wish, while gradually introducing a more varied diet (DH 2003)

To enable this target to be measured the Department of Health has published 'Vital Signs' that requires the NHS to return local data on the prevalence of breastfeeding at 6-8 weeks. Each Primary Care Trust (PCT) is required to submit data on the number of infants due a 6-8 week check during the quarter, number of infants being totally breastfed at 6-8 weeks, number of infants being partially breastfed (receiving both breast milk and infant formula) at 6-8 weeks, and number of infants being  not at all breastfed at 6-8 weeks during the quarter.

The above breastfeeding categories are defined as follows:

Totally breastfed is defined as babies who are exclusively receiving breast milk at 6 weeks of age - that is, they are NOT receiving formula milk, any other liquids or food. Partially breastfed is defined as babies who are currently receiving breast milk at 6 weeks of age and who are also receiving formula milk or any other liquids or food. Not at all breastfed is defined as babies who are not currently receiving any breast milk at 6 weeks of age

This data is also sent to Regional Directors of Public Health, Strategic Health Authorities, and the national network of Breastfeeding Co-ordinators.

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