Babies who are under informal childcare, for instance cared for by relatives, friends, and neighbours when mothers are away at work are rarely breast fed , a recent study has revealed.
The study, which included 18,050 infants, applies to both full time and part time care, and all strata of society. The aim was to find out if childcare arrangements and socio-economic factors had any impact on breastfeeding rates and whether the infants had been breastfed for at least four months, which was the WHO recommended minimum until 2003.
The results showed that, while babies in formal childcare - nursery, cr?che, childcare centre or registered childminder, were around 15percent less likely to be breastfed, the cut was 50percent for those in informal childcare.
By contrast, lone mothers were 65percent more likely to breastfeed an infant provided with formal childcare.
"It is likely that for many mothers, it is not childcare use in isolation that influences the decision to breastfeed, but a chain of antenatal decisions about infant feeding, childcare and employment," comment the authors.
But the fact that informal childcare had the strongest impact on breastfeeding irrespective of social and economic factors prompts them to conclude that UK breastfeeding campaigns should target everyone, not just those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The research was published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.