Objective: To develop policy and public health recommendations for implementation at all levels by individuals and organisations working in, or related to, the field of breast-feeding promotion in developed country settings, where breast-feeding rates remain low.
Design: Two research phases, comprising (i) an assessment of the formal evidence base in developed country settings and (ii) a consultation with UK-based practitioners, service managers and commissioners, and representatives of service users. The evidence base included three systematic reviews and an Evidence Briefing. One hundred and ten studies evaluating an intervention in developed country settings were assessed for quality and awarded an overall quality rating. Studies with a poor quality rating were excluded. The resulting seventy studies examined twenty-five types of intervention for breast-feeding promotion. These formed the basis of the second consultation phase to develop the evidence-based interventions into recommendations for practice, which comprised (i) pilot consultation, (ii) electronic consultation, (iii) fieldwork meetings and (iv) workshops. Draft findings were synthesised for two rounds of stakeholder review conducted by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.
Results: Twenty-five recommendations emerged within three complementary and necessary categories, i.e. public health policy, mainstream clinical practice and local interventions.
Conclusions: The need for national policy directives was clearly identified as a priority to address many of the barriers experienced by practitioners when trying to work across sectors, organisations and professional groups. Routine implementation of the WHO/UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative across hospital and community services was recommended as core to breast-feeding promotion in the UK. A local mix of complementary interventions is also required.