The findings are based on Growing Up in Scotland (GUS) data of more than 5000 mothers, which assessed their breastfeeding habits in the first 10 months of their babies’ lives. It compared results from 2004 and 2011.
- Mothers from more advantaged backgrounds are far more likely to try breastfeeding at least once, when compared to mothers from disadvantaged backgrounds.
- While the total number of women who breastfed their babies at least once increased by only 3% between 2004 and 2011, those who did breastfeed are feeding for longer.
- Mothers who gave birth in 2011 and who managed to breastfeed beyond the first month had a 25% higher chance of breastfeeding for longer compared with mothers in 2004.
- This was far more pronounced among mothers from disadvantaged backgrounds. Mothers with few or no educational qualifications had a 150% higher chance of continuing to breastfeed for between 6 and 10 months in 2011 than their peers did in 2004.
- The study also found that mothers in households where a language other than English was spoken had a four times higher chance to breastfeed their child compared with mothers where only English was spoken.
- There remains a significant proportion of women who stop breastfeeding within the first month. Not having enough milk was the most commonly given reason for stopping so early.
For more information:
CRFR briefing 71: Changes in Scottish infant feeding policy and breastfeeding habits between 2004 and 2011.
Skafida, V. (2014) Change in breastfeeding patterns in Scotland between 2004 and 2011 and the role of health policy. European Journal of Public Health.
They study has already attracted keen interest from the Scottish Government and public health analysts. Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Aileen Keel, welcomed the research, particularly noting the encouraging trend among mums from disadvantaged backgrounds. Similarly Minister for Public Health Micheal Matheson was pleased to see a rise in the number of mothers from disadvantaged backgrounds who have breastfed for longer, especially in light of the longlasting health benefits this brings and evidence to suggest that breastfed babies are less likely to use NHS services in later life.