A new all-island report published by the Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) highlights that breastfeeding rates are increasing across the island of Ireland but the gap between North and South is getting wider. Data shows age, income and nationality influence breastfeeding rates.
Key messages from ‘Breastfeeding on the island of Ireland’
- Breastfeeding can make a significant contribution to population health by improving health outcomes for both mother and child.
- Breastfeeding rates in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland have increased slowly over the last ten years. Northern Ireland has the lowest rate of breastfeeding within the UK.
- Breastfeeding rates in Northern Ireland are lower than those of the Republic of Ireland and the gap has increased over time.
- In 2015, the National Perinatal Reporting System recorded that 58% of babies in the Republic of Ireland were receiving any breastmilk on discharge from hospital. The Health Service Executive recorded that 35% of babies were receiving some breastmilk at three months.
- In 2015/16, the Northern Ireland Child Health System recorded that 46% of babies were receiving any breastmilk on discharge from hospital. 21% of babies were receiving some breastmilk at three months.
- Younger mothers and those living with socio-economic disadvantage were less likely to breastfeed in both jurisdictions. Older mothers and those in the highest socio-economic groups are the most likely to initiate breastfeeding and to continue with it.
- Data from Northern Ireland suggests that public attitudes and perceptions relating to breastfeeding are improving. Creating a supportive breastfeeding environment across the island is a shared challenge and forms the focus of strategies/action plans in both jurisdictions