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Number of new Scots mothers breastfeeding on the rise

Almost two-thirds of newborn babies were breastfed by their mothers in 2016/17, NHS reveals.

Report: Older mothers were most likely to breastfeed their baby.
Report: Older mothers were most likely to breastfeed their baby. © University of Aberdeen

The proportion of new mothers in Scotland breastfeeding their babies has increased in recent years, according to new statistics.

A study by NHS Scotland found 63% of babies born in 2016/17 had been breastfed at some point and 41% were still being breastfed at six to eight weeks old.

Despite the increase, the country's breastfeeding rates remain low compared to other nations, including England.

"The proportion of babies ever breastfed in Scotland was consistently and substantially lower than that achieved in England," the report states.

The study found breastfeeding was more common among older mothers and those from the least deprived areas of Scotland.

More than half (56%) of mothers aged 40 or over were breastfeeding at the six to eight week review compared to just 12% of teenage mothers.

A total of 60% of babies born to mothers living in the wealthiest areas of Scotland were breastfed by the same point compared to 26% of those born in the most-deprived communities.

"In general, young mothers and mothers from deprived areas are both less likely to attempt breastfeeding and, if they do attempt it, more likely to stop shortly after delivery than mothers from more advantaged groups," the report said.

"Inequalities in infant feeding, therefore, become more pronounced as babies get older."

Public health minister Aileen Campbell said: "Half of babies born in 2016/17 were being breastfed at around ten to 14 days, continuing a gradual increase in breastfeeding at this stage.

"After six to eight weeks, 41% of babies were still being breastfed, up from 39% the previous year and the highest rate since 2001.

"There has also been a welcome increase in breastfeeding in the most deprived areas and among younger mothers. 

"This is testament to the work in health boards and across a range of organisations to ensure parents give their baby the very best nutritional start in life."

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