JSNA > Starting Well

Breastfeeding is a major contributor to public health. It has an important role in the prevention of illness and reducing health inequalities. If sustained for the first six months of life, breastfeeding can make a major contribution to an infant’s health, wellbeing and development and is associated with better health outcomes for the mother.

Despite the evidence of the benefits of breastfeeding, England has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in Western Europe. Young mothers, women of lower socio-economic status or those who left full time education at an early age are the least likely either to start breastfeeding or to continue beyond six to eight weeks and are therefore more likely to stop breastfeeding sooner.

Social and cultural norms play a strong role in the decision to breastfeed or not, as does personal and family experience. The incidence of breastfeeding is also strongly associated with high maternal socio-economic status and educational attainment. Lower income groups, which have a higher incidence of low birth weight infants and infectious diseases in childhood, have the potential for great health gain from increased breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding rates for County Durham have remained almost unchanged over recent years despite continued promotion and high quality support for breastfeeding mothers.  A long-term key priority in County Durham is to enable every child to have the best start in life by improving breastfeeding rates.  A core deliverable of this strategic priority is to support women to initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies through the County Durham ‘Call to Action’, to change the culture of breastfeeding in our county, whilst promoting and maintaining full UNICEF Baby Friendly Accreditation within key services.

Key Messages:

Data Report: Click the report tabs to explore more data around breastfeeding in County Durham. Click on the expand button in the bottom right of the box to open in full screen mode.

Assessments and audits

Breastfeeding Health Equity Audit for County Durham 2016 (PDF; 1Mb)

Our strategies, plans and groups

The Children, Young People and Families Partnership Board have developed the Growing up in County Durham Strategy

County Durham Oral Health Promotion Strategy 2023-2028

The evidence base

NICE Guidance:

The Best Start for Life, A Vision for the 1,001 Critical Days (2021)

Other relevant links