Some good news today, for babies and their families.
The early results are out for the 2005 national infant feeding survey and they show that breastfeeding initiation rates are up again.
In 2005, 76% of mothers in the UK breastfed their babies, compared with 69% in 2000 and 66% in 1995.
There is still a significant skew towards the babies of mothers who were better educated, older and from a higher socio-economic group, but big improvements were seen in other categories and the gap seems to be narrowing.
Note: for the rest of the results, we will have to wait until Spring 2007.
This is a long way from the kind of rate we should be aiming for – in many countries the initiation rates are in the range of 95% to 100% and our initiation rates are still appalling.
[Remember, too, that these are only initiation rates, the cases of breastfeeding attempted: rates for successful breastfeeding are lower still. In England & Wales only around 20%-25% (depending which study you look at) of babies are still getting breastmilk at 6 months. For successful breastfeeding we must look to countries like Nepal and Burkina Faso which both had, at the last count, rates above 87% for breastfeeding at 20-23 months!]
But, carp as I may, this is nevertheless to be welcomed as a step in the right direction.