The global public health recommendation is that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health, before starting mixed feeding alongside ongoing breastfeeding, where possible. There is comprehensive evidence to show that breastfeeding is linked to improved brain development, better educational outcomes and income in adulthood as well as better short and long-term health outcomes for both mother and child,
Health care costs
A study by UNICEF in the UK found that low breastfeeding rates led to an increased incidence of illness that had a significant cost to the NHS. The study concluded that investment in effective services to increase and sustain breastfeeding rates would pay for itself and save the NHS money within a few years. .
The decision to breastfeed is absolutely a personal choice for the mother. Across different regions of the UK, breastfeeding rates vary between 19% and over 81%. Such variation is not just down to personal choice, it is also about circumstances. This indicator helps promote a dialogue about barriers that might prevent mothers in Jersey from breastfeeding and supports evaluation of the impact of different interventions over time.