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Football team to boost breastfeeding rates

Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust is looking to use local interest in football to draw more attention to the benefits of breastfeeding and boost the city's breastfeeding rates.

The "breast support you can give your baby" campaign features 11 local breastfeeding mothers wearing the red and white shirts of Sunderland AFC. It seeks to highlight the importance of supporting your baby by breastfeeding to give them the best start in life.

Although the breastfeeding rate in Sunderland is rising slowly, and now stands at 42%, it remains lower than the national average of 62%. It also declines quite quickly to around 20% by the time the baby is six weeks old.

Julie Hemmer, health coordinator for Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust and the breastfeeding lead for children's centres, said the campaign is designed to attract the attention of people in Sunderland and promote the importance of breastfeeding.

Julie said: "Everyone knows that in Sunderland there is considerable interest in all things football and by taking this highly visual approach. We wanted to use the high levels of local interest in the football club as a feature to help get across our message. We aim to emphasize that the best support any mother can give her baby is to breastfeed.

"Capitalising on the support local people show their football team we ask for the same support for breastfeeding mothers, especially from their partners and extended families. Women are more likely to continue to breastfeed if they receive support from their partners and local peers.

"As a result of this different approach we hope that everyone will take an interest in the campaign, encourage more mothers to breastfeed and most importantly support them to breastfeed for longer."