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Health staff offer poor breastfeeding advice

New mothers in the UK are not getting the right breastfeeding advice, research shows.

A study suggests most professionals are not adhering to current government and World Health Organisation guidance when it comes to advising how long women should breastfeed.

Knowledge of breastfeeding duration was worse among family doctors and paediatricians than among health visitors and midwives.

Most health staff incorrectly endorsed 4 months as the minimum time to breastfeed instead of 6.

The government aims to increase breastfeeding by 2% every year. To do so, expert Louise Wallace at Coventry University says we need "proper training and assessment of the competence of healthcare professionals in delivering breastfeeding advice to new mothers.

"Access to training is very variable in the NHS, so we think that proper testing of skills to target training on those who most need it could save the NHS money."

The researchers have developed a self-study workbook, which meets UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative best practice standards, to help healthcare practitioners provide competent advice.

Coventry University