INFORMATION RESOURCES ON FOOD AND HEALTH
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Infant Feeding in the East Midlands
Breast feeding in the first few months of life can have significant impacts on the health of children as they grow. There is significant variation in the initiation and continuation of breastfeeding across different demographic groups. Increasing the levels of breastfeeding among certain groups may therefore help to narrow inequalities in health outcomes for children and young people. These reports show the initiation, drop-off and prevalence rates for breastfeeding in the East Midlands and its constituent Primary Care Trusts, with a focus on differences based on ethnic group, maternal age and levels of deprivation. The local data are presented and discussed with reference to the academic literature. Associations between breastfeeding and specific conditions such as gastroenteritis, respiratory tract infections, overweight and obesity and infant mortality are examined and regional data are analysed to model the potential reduced risk of these conditions in the population associated with relative increases in breastfeeding. There is also an estimate made as to the potential cost savings which could be made in the East Midlands by reducing hospital admissions for gastroenteritis and respiratory tract infections by increasing breastfeeding prevalence.
National Policy Context
The NHS Priorities and Planning Framework 2003-2006 set out a target that each local area must increase breastfeeding initiation rates by two percentage points per annum. In October 2007, a new PSA target was introduced to measure the 'prevalence of beastfeeding at 6 - 8 weeks'. Both sets of data is collected by PCTs and reported to the Department of Health at quarterly intervals.
The introduction of such indicators demonstrates the priority that is being given to the encouragement of breastfeeding by the Department of Health, who are supporting a partnership approach, promoting breastfeeding through primary and community health services such as GPs, health visitors and midwives, the Child Health Promotion Programme and the third sector such as the National Childbirth Trust.
Use the following link to access the most recent data on breastfeeding initiation and prevalence rates:
The Choosing a Better Diet: A Food and Health Action Plan (2005) outlines a range of actions for improving the diets and health of infants, including encouraging breast feeding for the first six months of life, especially through National Breastfeeding Awareness Week. The Welfare Food Scheme has been replaced with the Healthy Start Scheme allowing eligible pregnant women, mothers and young children in low income families to have greater access to, and encouragement to adopt, a healthy diet.
A direct link to resources available for health professionals about Healthy Start is below:
Access to Healthy Start Outlets in the East Midlands – PCT Profiles
Poor accessibility to food outlets has been identified as a barrier to attaining a healthy diet; this is especially true for those living on low incomes. A key aim of Healthy Start is to reduce inequalities, and so it is important to ensure that all communities, especially those on low incomes, can adequately use this scheme.
The aim of this project was to:
- Identify those areas where there are high levels of eligible claimants;
- Identify those areas where there are gaps in availability of outlets accepting Healthy Start vouchers; and
- Examine the association between accessibility to Healthy Start outlets and take-up of vouchers in the region.
These local profiles examine accessibility to Healthy Start outlets for each PCT in the East Midlands, by examining both walking and driving distance to these outlets. It is hoped that these profiles will highlight those areas where accessibility may be a barrier to take-up of Healthy Start vouchers and where additional support may be needed.
For further information please contact
Breastfeeding: off to the best start
A leaflet, 'Breastfeeding: off to the best start,' was published by the Department of Health in March 2007. This leaflet provides mothers with important information about feeding their baby. It states that breastfeeding gives a baby all the nutrients he needs for the first six months of life and helps to protect him from infection and other diseases.
Breastfeeding in the East Midlands: patterns, trends and data quality issues
Breastfeeding has important health benefits for both mother and child. Breastfed babies are less likely to report with gastric, respiratory and urinary tract infections and allergic diseases, while they are also less likely to become obese in later childhood. Improving breastfeeding initiation has become a national priority, and a national target has been set “to deliver an increase of two percentage points per annum in breastfeeding initiation rate, focusing especially on women from disadvantaged areas”. Despite improvements in data quality in previous years, it still remains difficult to construct an accurate and reliable picture of variations and trends in breastfeeding in the East Midlands. It is essential that nationally standardised data collection systems are put in place to enable effective and accurate monitoring and evaluation of breastfeeding status both at a local and national level.
Breastfeeding/infant feeding links
Infant Feeding Survey 2010
The 2010 Infant Feeding Survey is the eighth in a series of national surveys. These surveys have been conducted every five years since 1975, on behalf of the four Health Departments in the United Kingdom. This latest survey has been commissioned by the NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care (NHS IC) and is being conducted by IFF Research.
The main aim of the survey is to provide estimates of the incidence, prevalence and duration of breastfeeding and other feeding practices adopted by mothers from the birth of their baby up to around ten months. The survey also collects information about the smoking and drinking behaviour of mothers before, during and after pregnancy.
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PAGE CREATED: 1 April 2007 | PAGE REVISED: 17 October 2011