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Shopping voucher incentive helps increase low rates of breastfeeding

Providing a financial incentive to mothers can significantly improve breastfeeding rates in areas where they are historically low, a study shows


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Providing a financial incentive to mothers can significantly improve breastfeeding rates in areas where they are historically low, a study shows.

Researchers from the universities of Sheffield and Dundee offered shopping vouchers worth up to £120 to 10,000 new mothers across South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire if they breastfed their babies at two days, 10 days and six weeks old.

A further £80 of vouchers were given if the babies continued to be breastfed at six months old.

Information was collected during routine assessments of babies’ health by professionals including health visitors.

£17m

Encouraging mothers to breastfeed for up to 18 months could save the NHS £17 million a year in the cost of treating infant diseases.

Source: NHS Choices

After the trial, the breastfeeding rate for the three areas rose by 6%, compared with non-trial areas, from 32% to 38%.

Professor of mother and infant health at the University of Dundee and study co-author Mary Renfrew said ‘societal barriers’ made it particularly difficult for women to breastfeed.

She said: ‘In the UK these include the difficulty some women encounter when breastfeeding in public, widespread misleading marketing that formula is equivalent to breastfeeding, a lack of high quality services to prevent and treat any problems, a lack of community and workplace support, and a lack of education about breastfeeding for young children.'


Relton C 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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