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Breastfeeding Rates Short Of Targets

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Breastfeeding Rates Short Of Targets

Wellington, Sept 22 NZPA - Breastfeeding rates are falling short of national targets, with Maori and Pacific rates well below those for the rest of the population, a review has found.

The study's author, Mid Central District Health Board nutritionist and health promoter Nirmala Nand, said the low rates were a major public health concern.

She told the Public Health Association's annual conference in Ngaruawahia today that ongoing commitment was needed to promote breastfeeding among Maori and Pacific mothers.

Her recent literature review noted 66 percent of mothers breastfed their newborns, dropping to 55 percent at three months and 25 percent at six months.

The rates compared with Ministry of Health targets of 90 percent, 70 percent and 27 percent respectively.

Rates were lower for Maori mothers, at 59 percent, 45 percent and 17 percent.

Pacific mothers had similar rates of 57 percent, 48 percent and 19 percent.

Ms Nand said her study had identified and confirmed a number of factors behind the low rates, such as higher smoking rates,

"The anti-smoking messages have got through to them, and because some of them cannot stop smoking they tend to stop breastfeeding.

"Lack of family support is also shown to influence mothers in making a positive decision to breastfeed. Sometimes fathers don't encourage breast-feeding because they don't like seeing it done in public.

"Breast feeding facilities also need to be in an appropriate place. For cultural reasons Maori and Pacific mothers are not comfortable breastfeeding near a toilet."

Ms Nand said breastfeeding had many health benefits for babies.

"We need to work with Maori and Pacific communities to increase their understanding of the benefits of breast feeding."

Breastfeeding on its own is recommended for babies up to six months old, with breastfeeding supplemented by other foods recommended for children up to two years old.

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