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Cash incentives may encourage breastfeeding rates early on

Offering financial incentives may increase breastfeeding rates marginally at six to eight weeks.

Offering financial incentives may increase breastfeeding rates marginally at six to eight weeks, a randomised controlled trial has found.

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In areas where breastfeeding rates were lower than 40%, there was a 5.7 percentage point increase in breastfeeding prevalence at six to eight weeks of those who were part of the scheme, when compared with women who received usual care alone, such as from midwives and health visitors.

Between April 2015 and March 2016, the Nourishing Start for Health (NOSH) carried out a cluster randomised clinical trial with 10,010 mothers and their infants.

The scheme consisted of two groups. The intervention group was formed of 5,398 mothers and infants whom were alerted to the scheme via advertising. The second group - the  control group - consisted of 4,612 mothers and infants who had been offered the scheme in conjunction with usual care.

An article, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, stated there was only a 4.1 percentage point difference between the intervention and control group.

Carried out in five areas in England: Bassetlaw, Doncaster, North Derbyshire, Rotherham, and Sheffield the scheme offered women shopping vouchers worth £40 five times based on the infants age: two days, ten days, six to eight weeks, three months and six months.

To obtain the vouchers the mothers had to sign a form stating that ‘my baby is receiving breast milk’ and a countersigned form from a midwife, health visitor or other healthcare professionals, such as a nurse stating: ‘I have discussed breastfeeding with mum today’.

Relton C, Strong M, Thomas KJ et al (2017) Effect of financial incentives on breastfeeding. A cluster randomized clinical trial. JAMA Pediatrics. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.4523

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