Brighton and Hove's poorest babies are less likely to be breastfed

Posted On 25 Jan 2012 at 5:15 pm

Fewer babies breastfeed in the poorer parts of Brighton and Hove, according to an official report.

But the percentage of mothers breastfeeding their babies at six to eight weeks old has improved markedly in those areas with breastfeeding support workers.

A Brighton and Hove City Council scrutiny meeting was told that local rates were above the national average – about 76 per cent compared with about 50 per cent.

But in Moulsecoomb and Whitehawk the figures were between 60 per cent and 70 per cent – compared with 85 per cent in parts of Hove and 84 per cent in Westdene.

The Spearhead

Almost nine in ten mothers across Brighton and Hove start breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding co-ordinators Clare Jones and Lynda Watson said that two part-time staff were employed to help tackle low rates in North Portslade, East Brighton and Woodingdean.

Since then breastfeeding rates in North Portslade have risen from 43 per cent in 2009 to 77 per cent in the October to December quarter.

Over the same period the rate in East Brighton rose from 58 per cent to 70 per cent.

A report to the council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee at Hove Town Hall said: “Breastfeeding has a major role to play in public health, promoting health in both the short and long term for baby and mother.

“There is extensive evidence that feeding experiences in infancy influence health and development in childhood and later life.

“Work is under way to promote breastfeeding and increase prevalence in areas of inequalities.”

Support is offered in children’s centres with a group of breastfeeding champions helping the community breastfeeding team.

And some of a team of 40 trained volunteers can be found most days working with community groups and in the post-natal ward at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.

They can be found on Level 12 of the tower block at the Royal Sussex in pink tops. Their tops say: “Mum to Mum support.”

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