05/05/2004

Campaign highlights benefits of breastfeeding

The Health Promotion Agency (HPA) has launched a campaign aimed at highlighting the benefits of breastfeeding to mothers in Northern Ireland.

The campaign aims to raise public awareness about the health benefits for both baby and mother, and to normalise breastfeeding so it becomes socially acceptable in the province.

Research carried out by the HPA shows that over one third of people in Northern Ireland consider breastfeeding to be embarrassing and over half feel breastfeeding should not be seen in public.

At present Northern Ireland has the lowest rate of breastfeeding in the UK and one of the lowest in Europe.

Speaking at the launch Janet Calvert, Regional Breastfeeding Coordinator with the HPA, said: “Research shows that many mums are keen to breastfeed and to make it part of their daily routine. Not only is it the best food a baby can get it is also good for mum too.

"However, research also shows that while some know the health benefits of breastfeeding there is still only a vague awareness among the public including young mums-to-be about how good this type of feeding is for both mum and baby.

"The benefits for mum include a reduced risk of certain cancers and a reduced risk of developing osteoporosis. For babies the benefits include a reduction in the risk of developing ear, chest and urinary infections and they are less likely to develop childhood obesity and diabetes.”

The campaign has been made exclusively for Northern Ireland incorporating a mix of television, radio and bus advertising as well as support materials in health service facilities.

The health benefits of breastfeeding are addressed in the television advertising while the radio and bus poster advertising highlight the need to be supportive to mums who want to breastfeed their babies.

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