Can we increase breast feeding rates?

Ir Med J. 1997 Apr-May;90(3):100-1.


Breast feeding rates in Ireland have stagnated at around 33% over the past 10 years. We aimed to assess the effect of a simple intervention in late pregnancy on breast feeding rates. The study was randomised and prospective. In the intervention group a sheet illustrating eight positive aspects of breast feeding was presented to mothers at their 36 week antenatal visit. This information was reinforced with a questionnaire on the topic of breast feeding. The control group received a routine antenatal care. There were 98 mothers in the intervention group and 95 controls. A similar percentage in each group had medical cards. On discharge from hospital 31.5% of controls and 43.9% of the test group were breast feeding. This difference just failed to reach statistical significance (P = 0.07). The intervention, which took just three minutes of a medical student's time, appeared to result in an improved breast feeding rate. Though the difference did not reach statistical significance, this reflects, in part, the small numbers in the study. About half of the women in the study indicated that no doctor had offered any advice on the choice of feeding. Since this minor intervention produced a good response, it would seem appropriate to adopt a more positive attitude in the promotion of breast feeding.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ireland
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care
  • Prospective Studies