Exclusive diet of breast milk advised for six months

The Government has today advised mothers to feed their babies only breast milk for the first six months of their life. The guidance, issued to mark the start of National Breastfeeding Awareness Week, has been welcomed by a number of health organisations including the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association, the Royal College of Midwives and the National Childbirth Trust charity.

'Breastfeeding for the first six months provides the best start for babies. It establishes a foundation for improving short and long-term health and in so doing can help to reduce health inequalities,' the health minister, Hazel Blears, said. 'We want to support women in their decision to breastfeed and help them continue to do so.'

When compared to its European counterparts, the UK possesses one of the lowest breastfeeding rates, with nearly a third of UK babies never being breastfed, while nine of ten mothers stop breastfeeding after only six weeks.

The Government's new recommendation states: 'Breastfeeding is the best form of nutrition for infants. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months of an infant's life as it provides all the nutrients a baby needs.' Evidence suggests that breastfeeding provides a range of health benefits to both mother and baby.

 (c) 1998-2003 DeHavilland Information Services plc. All rights reserved.

 Department of Health