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Britain's Breast-Feeding Promotion Efforts Are Failing

National breast-feeding promotion strategy urgently required in UK

FRIDAY, Sept. 26 (HealthDay News) -- The U.K. health care system is failing to encourage women to breast-feed, and a national breast-feeding promotion strategy is urgently required if breast-feeding rates are to improve, according to an editorial published online Sept. 25 in BMJ.

Mary Renfrew, Ph.D., of the University of York in York, U.K., and a colleague write that in the United Kingdom, young, white women from low socioeconomic backgrounds are most likely to feed their babies with infant formula. Only 60 percent of women who initiate breast-feeding continue beyond six weeks and only 20 percent of babies are exclusively breast-fed at 6 weeks of age.

Changes in policy, practice and education are required to reinstate breast-feeding as the norm in developed countries, the authors write, adding that physicians, midwives and health visitors can help bring about change without waiting for policies to change first.

"Women and infants need their doctors to advocate breast-feeding, to learn the basic skills, to revise protocols for weight monitoring to ensure that breast-feeding is protected, and to support their colleagues who are working to promote and protect breast-feeding," the authors write. "Helping women to breast-feed will avoid discontinuation and distress and encourage other women to breast-feed. It's not rocket science, but the effect on health outcomes will be profound and long lasting."

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