Britain must adopt a national strategy to encourage breastfeeding, experts say today. The battle cry "breast is best" has been promoted by the childbirth lobby for decades, but 40 per cent of women in the UK who start to breastfeed give up by the time their baby is six weeks old.
Only 20 per cent of babies are exclusively breast fed at six weeks. Research shows babies who are breast fed are less prone to allergies, have fewer infections and higher IQs – though this latter claim is controversial.
Professors Mary Renfrew of the University of York and David Hall of the University of Sheffield say the main reasons women stop – such as problems getting the baby to feed, or pain – can be remedied. Writing in the British Medical Journal, they say a national plan to promote breastfeeding is urgently needed. They say doctors need more training, and changes in social attitudes to public breastfeeding are also required.