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FOUR IN FIVE MUMS DON'T BREASTFEED LONG ENOUGH; Babies need 6 months not 6 weeks.

Byline: JILL PALMER, Medical Correspondent

FOUR out of five mums stop breastfeeding before six months, depriving their babies of vital nutrition and immunity to infection.

Nearly 70 per cent of mums start out breastfeeding but this falls to 42 per cent after six weeks.

Yesterday the National Childbirth Trust called the figures "extremely disappointing". The Department of Health pointed out that breastmilk was "accepted as the best form of nutrition for infants".

The NCT today launches a campaign to encourage new mothers to breastfeed in public without feeling embarrassed.

NCT chief Belinda Phipps said: "We need to make breastfeeding as unremarkable as reading a newspaper." The campaign features a poster showing 22-year-old model Shanelle Claridge breastfeeding her daughter in a cafe.

The latest figures from the Department of Health show that more women are starting to breastfeed than in 1995 - 69 per cent to 66 per cent. But at six months this falls to 21 per cent, the same as seven years ago.

First-time mums and those over 30 are most likely to nurse their babies themselves. The less well-educated in lower social occupations are least likely.

The World Health Organisation recommends babies should be breastfed for six months. Mum's milk is easy to digest and contains vital antibodies.
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 14, 2002
Words:209
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