Tag Archives: Breastfeeding

NIHR Signal: Fortified donor breast milk led to similar development for very-low-birthweight babies compared with formula milk

Image Source: NHS Photo Library

Providing very-low-birthweight babies with fortified human donor breast milk made no difference to their developmental neurological outcomes at 18 months compared with giving formula.

This randomised controlled trial looked at 363 babies with birth weights of less than 1500g in neonatal intensive care units in Canada. When the mother’s own milk supply was limited, the babies were given either nutrient-enriched donor breast milk or formula developed for premature babies. There was no difference in their understanding, language, or ability to manipulate objects at 18 months.

This finding might help to reduce anxiety about providing formula in areas where donor breast milk is difficult to obtain. However, the research was focussed on developmental outcomes rather than potential effects of donor breast milk on other risks of prematurity, such as immunity or gastrointestinal complications.

This trial will continue to collect data to re-assess developmental outcomes when the children reach five years of age.

Read the full signal here

Breastfeeding prevalence at 6-8 weeks after birth: 2016 to 2017 Q3 data

Public Health England statistics and statistical commentary on the prevalence of breastfeeding.

The aggregate breastfeeding rate for England for Quarter 3 2016/17 (October to December 2016) is 44.1% (with confidence intervals of 43.9 – 44.4%)
 Breastfeeding prevalence can be published for 73 local authorities (passing all 3 stages of validation) and percentages range from 19.0% to 76.9%.

View statistics here

Breastfeeding ‘doesn’t boost children’s intelligence’ – Behind the Headlines – NHS Choices

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A new study followed about 8,000 babies in Ireland for five years to look at whether breastfeeding had an impact on problem solving and vocabulary (cognitive abilities), and problem behaviours.

“Scientists found tots given the boob had the same IQ at age three and five compared to bottle-fed youngsters,” The Sun reports in its own unique way.

This study has tackled the controversial question of whether there are long-term benefits of breastfeeding for cognitive ability or problem behaviours when children are older (ages three to five). Although they found very limited evidence of benefit, the authors do note that there are some other studies that have used a similar analysis but found differing results. The researchers think this could be due to slight differences in analysis.

This does highlight the difficulties in being absolutely certain whether breastfeeding has direct impact on long-term cognitive outcomes. What we can say is that, if there are differences, they do not appear to be large once other factors are taken into. This may be reassuring to women who were not able to breastfeed.

The strengths of this study include its large size, the fact that it followed participants prospectively for a long period, and took into account a large number of factors that could be influencing the link. There are some limitations. For example, they collected information on breastfeeding at nine months. In some cases mothers may not have been able to accurately remember exactly how long they breastfed for by that point, or felt pressure to report longer durations than were actually achieved.

Read the full Behind the Headlines report article here

or here for the study on which the article is based (Girard L-C, Doyle O, Tremblay RE. Breastfeeding, Cognitive and Noncognitive Development in Early Childhood: A Population Study. Pediatrics. Published online March 27 2017 )

PHE Start4 life launches breastfeeding “chat-bot”

Image Source:  NHS Photo Library 

Public Health England (PHE) and NHS England have conducted a survey which found that of the three-quarters of the new mums who start breastfeeding, only 40% were still breastfeeding two months later. To help dispel some of the concerns women have about breastfeeding, PHE’s Start4 life programme has launched a new interactive Breastfeeding Friend (BFF) ChatBot. The BFF is accessed through Facebook messenger and provides personal support for mothers at any time of the day or night. The ChatBot works as a live chat tool which is able to respond to questions about breastfeeding posed by the user.

Read the PHE press release here

Cochrane Library Special Collection: Enabling breastfeeding for mothers and babies

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This Cochrane Special Collection of systematic reviews on Breastfeeding has been developed to bring the best available evidence on effective care to the attention of decision makers, health professionals, advocacy groups, and women and families, and to support the implementation of evidence-informed policy and practice. The collection focuses on reviews on support and care for breastfeeding women, including treatment of breastfeeding associated problems; health promotion and an enabling environment; and breastfeeding babies with additional needs.

View the Special Collection (free access) here

Maternity Services Monthly Statistics, England – October 2016, Experimental statistics

This is a report on NHS-funded maternity services in England for October 2016, using data submitted to the Maternity Services Data Set (MSDS). The MSDS has been developed to help achieve better outcomes of care for mothers, babies and children


  • 106 providers successfully submitted October data for the MSDS. This compares with 134 providers submitting data in HES for 2015-16. We are working closely with providers who did not respond and expect coverage and data quality to increase over time.

  • 84 of these providers submitted birth data relating to babies born in October 2016.

  • Among women that had a booking appointment in October 2016, 53 per cent were within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. This varied across regions with the highest proportion (59 per cent) of women having appointments in the first 10 weeks in the North of England Commissioning Region and the lowest proportion (37 per cent) in the London Commissioning Region.

  • Of the births that had a recorded delivery method, 59 per cent were spontaneous vaginal births, 11 per cent had instrumental assistance, 12 per cent were elective caesarean sections and 15 per cent were emergency caesarean sections. The proportion of births by emergency caesarean was highest in the Midlands and East of England and the London Commissioning Regions (16 per cent) and lowest in the South of England Commissioning Region (13 per cent).

  • Among mothers that gave birth at 37 weeks gestation or later, 80 per cent had skin-to-skin contact with their baby within one hour of birth. The percentage of mothers that had skin-to-skin contact within one hour was highest in the Midlands and East of England Commissioning Region (82 per cent) and lowest in the London Commissioning Region (78 per cent).

  • 74 per cent of babies received maternal or donor breast milk as their first feed.

To view statistics click here

World Breastfeeding Trends UK Report 2016


The World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative UK Working Group has published World Breastfeeding Trends UK Report 2016. The report provides information on breastfeeding trends in the four countries of the UK. The review finds that there are good infant feeding policies and programmes in place, but that these are scattered.  England in particular is lacking in leadership and has support services that have declined in recent years.  The report includes a ‘scorecard’ for each UK country, rating them out of 10 on a variety of indicators.