An open letter on the crisis in breastfeeding in the UK has been issued today, signed by midwives, health visitors, paediatricians, lactation consultants, breastfeeding counsellors, peer supporters, university researchers and others who work for professional organisations and charities that support families – including the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV).
The letter follows the recent series in The Lancet on breastfeeding – the most comprehensive review of all the evidence on breastfeeding to date.
The open letter states: “The breastfeeding crisis in the UK is in fact a crisis of lack of support for those mothers who choose to breastfeed.” It highlights the recent cuts to breastfeeding support services and the infant feeding specialist posts, which are driven by cuts to public health, which amount to £200 million in total in England.
Cheryll Adams, Executive Director, Institute of Health Visiting, said:
“The uptake of breastfeeding is a major public health issue and the UK must address its very disappointing figures, laid bare by the Lancet, as a first step in also addressing many other health issues improved by breastfeeding, including the challenging year on year increase in childhood obesity which breastfeeding can protect against. A reduction in childhood obesity is a priority for the government so breastfeeding must now also be given priority status with mothers given access to the professional and voluntary support they need to breastfeed for as long as they wish.”
The open letter will be sent to all four governments of the UK and in particular to: Jane Ellison (Minister for Public Health), Ben Gummer (Minister for Care Quality), Duncan Selbie (Chief Executive, Public Health England) and Simon Stevens (Chief Executive of NHS England).