Press release (WBTi UK 2016)

The first World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative (WBTi) report for the UK was launched in Parliament on 15 November 2016.

Follow the news and discussion on Twitter #wbtiUK2016

Press release

News coverage

Full report

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) have made this statement about the report.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) have made this statement about the report.

What people are saying about the WBTi UK report

Dr Nigel Rollins – World Health Organisation (WHO)
Author of 2016 Lancet paper on breastfeeding

“In the first of the 2016 Lancet papers reporting the epidemiology, mechanisms, and lifelong effects of breastfeeding, the lack of robust data reporting breastfeeding practices in high income countries was highlighted as a major gap. The 2016 UK report for the World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative responds to that gap. It is carefully compiled, thorough and contributes valuable knowledge to policy makers, health care workers and communities both in the UK and globally. Only with accurate reporting of these type of data can services and accountability be improved to support mothers in the UK wanting to breastfeed.” 

Dr Felicity Savage – World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action

“The WBTi is an important way for countries to assess where their efforts at breastfeeding promotion have reached, and to compare themselves with other countries. The idea has been developed by a group of organisations who have been working globally in the field for 30 years, and who know the challenges intimately. This present document is a major effort by leading breastfeeding experts in the UK to review our progress and create a base on which to plan future efforts. Policy makers need to face the fact that we have very low breastfeeding rates, to understand why this should be so, and to decide what is needed to improve the situation. The team who worked on this report are to be congratulated.”

Viv Bennett Chief Nurse, Public Health England

“PHE welcomes the first UK WBTI report measuring the current state of breastfeeding in England and the UK. Promoting breast feeding is a key priority within PHE’s national priority to ‘Give Every Child the Best Start in Life’. There is good evidence that shows the benefits of exclusive breast feeding for at least six months for babies, mothers, families and the whole population in terms of immediate and longer term health and economic outcomes.”

Cheryll Adams – Institute for Health Visiting

“The authors of this amazing piece of work are to be commended for all the work which has gone into it and the understanding it brings on how each country can improve its breast feeding rates. As they say this must happen at many levels. The report lays bare the most important actions to take from policy down. I hope that its findings will be picked up by journalists and shared with the wider public who can then also play their part in supporting breast feeding mothers.”

Jon Ashworth MP – Shadow Secretary of State for Health

“This report is the first that measures how well the UK is doing in protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding. Although the report reveals that there are good infant feeding policies and programmes across the UK, England scores very poorly. The reasons for this low score in England is the lack of leadership in that there is no national breastfeeding committee or coordinator, and the reduction of support services in recent years so that access to skilled support is too often a postcode lottery.”

Helen Crawley – First Steps Nutrition

“Unequivocal evidence about the importance for all countries of supporting mums and babies around infant feeding means we need to up our game in the UK; the WBTi assessment provides us with a plan of action to move our policies and programmes forward.”

Rosalind Bragg – Maternity Action

The UK is unusual in not providing women with the right to continue breastfeeding on return to work. Effective legal protections for breastfeeding breaks and facilities are long overdue. These rights are important for women seeking to balance work with breastfeeding their baby, and are of particular value to women planning to share leave with their partners during their baby’s first year. We regularly hear from women who face difficulties negotiating breastfeeding arrangements with their employer, and it is disappointing that the law offers them so little support.

Emma Pickett – Association of Breastfeeding Mothers

“Breastfeeding initiation rates show UK mothers want to breastfeed. There are so many of us who want to help. We need the final step – the will of all local and national governments, their commitment, their resources, their leadership.”

Shereen Fisher – Breastfeeding Network

“An excellent report that highlights the fragile state of breastfeeding in the UK despite good efforts by many. To make a real difference for families a national and coordinated approach based in evidence needs to be taken – only then can we shift the responsibility of feeding the next generation from women to wider society.”

Mike Brady – Baby Milk Action

“Governments have claimed they could not implement World Health Assembly formula marketing requirements due to the European Union having weaker measures. With Brexit that is no longer an excuse. As this excellent report shows, implementing the marketing requirements will fill one of the policy gaps. All mothers have a right to accurate information. Appropriate marketing of breastmilk substitutes protects breastfeeding and protects babies fed on formula.”

Maddie McMahon – Breastfeeding Counsellor

The lack of consistent, skilled breastfeeding support has a daily impact on the physical and mental health of mothers and babies. As a Breastfeeding Counsellor, I welcome this report which shines a light on the patchy services available to breastfeeding mothers and lays out clear guidance on how we can improve things.

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