Plunket’s latest figures on breastfeeding, released ahead of World Breastfeeding week, show New Zealand’s breastfeeding rates for 2011 and 2012 are the highest they’ve been in 19 years.
Plunket clinical advisor Marianne Grant says that the figures are great news for New Zealand.
“Breastfeeding rates in New Zealand are definitely improving. Currently 85 per cent of babies up to the age of six weeks are getting some breast milk, a 5 per cent increase over the last 10 years. That may not sound all that big but it represents a significant number of babies”, she says.
The statistics only represent Plunket clients, who make up of 90 percent of New Zealand’s newborn babies. Plunket has been keeping breastfeeding statistics for 90 years – since 1922.
“It’s a wonderful record to have – it gives us a really clear picture of breastfeeding trends in New Zealand for almost a century. 1968 and 1969 had the lowest rates – with just 47 per cent of babies up to the age of 6 weeks being breastfed - so significant strides have been made since then”, says Ms Grant.
“Deciding to breastfeed your baby is one of the most positive steps you can take towards ensuring they get the best start in life. There are so many benefits for both mother and baby”.
“The goal is to see more babies being exclusively breastfed for longer and extending the duration of breastfeeding. In order for this to happen breastfeeding mothers need a supportive environment.
“The support of the mother’s partner and her family are known to be strong factors in whether - and for how long - she will breastfeed. Breastfeeding friendly workplaces and Paid Parental Leave are also key factors. We all need to continue to provide mothers with supportive environments so they can breastfeed for longer”.
Plunket supports the World Health Organization’s recommendation that babies are fed only breast milk for the first six months. After six months other suitable complementary foods should be added to a baby’s diet, with breastfeeding ideally continuing until the child reaches two years of age.
For support, information or advice about breastfeeding contact your local Plunket nurse or call PlunketLine 0800 933 922 - 24 hours, 7 days a week.
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Plunket External Communications Executive
021 405 842
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