If you were asked to guess which country has the lowest breastfeeding rates, which one would you say?
Would you go for a developing country which may not have much of a health budget to support breastfeeding mothers?
Or would you choose a wealthy country with one of the best health services in the world?
Probably not, though you’d have a better chance of getting it right if you did.
Which Country Has The Lowest Breastfeeding Rate?
According to data recently published in The Lancet, the UK has the worst breastfeeding rate in the world.
Just 0.5% of mothers are still breastfeeding at one year.
This figure is much higher in other countries, with 99% of mothers in Senegal still breastfeeding after a year. This figure is 56% in Brazil, 27% in the US and 23% in Germany.
Four out of five women try breastfeeding in the UK. By the six month mark, only a third of women are still breastfeeding, and just one in 200 breastfeed after their child’s first birthday.
The World Health Organisation recommends that babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. The organisation also recommends that women continue to breastfeed after the introduction of solid food until their child is two or older.
The researchers found the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome reduced by over a third when mothers in developed countries breastfed. This is not a new finding, however. Many years of research has found the same result.
People often wrongly assume that breastfeeding doesn’t have such an impact on child health in developed country. According to the research: “Children who are breastfed for longer periods have lower infectious morbidity and mortality, fewer dental malocclusions, and higher intelligence than do those who are breastfed for shorter periods, or not breastfed. This inequality persists until later in life. Growing evidence also suggests that breastfeeding might protect against overweight and diabetes later in life.”
The researchers found that as many as 800,000 childhood deaths could be prevented if breastfeeding rates become near-universal. This increase in breastfeeding could also prevent the deaths of 20,000 breast cancer sufferers per year.
A lack of support is often blamed for the UK’s low breastfeeding rates. Though women are educated throughout pregnancy in the benefits of breastfeeding, many fail to find the support they need to establish breastfeeding after the birth. Some women feel unprepared for breastfeeding, and many are surprised to discover that this natural thing doesn’t always come naturally.
Recommended Reading: Take a look at BellyBelly’s article 7 Things We Need To Do To Increase Breastfeeding Rates.