Breast-feeding is accompanied with a host of benefits both for the mother and the baby, and yet there seems to be no improvement in the number of women who choose to breast feed their babies.
As part of the Breastfeeding Awareness Week, the Scottish Executive figures, recently made available for public consumption, has revealed that the percentage of mothers breast-feeding their babies in 2005 was 37.7% as against 35.7% in 2004.
Andy Kerr, the health minister, said: 'We know that breastfeeding protects babies from a host of potential health problems, which is why we will continue our efforts to encourage mothers to start and continue breastfeeding. I am disappointed that we have not hit our target and that while uptake in some areas with high levels of deprivation are improving, this is not happening quickly enough.'
The benefits of breast-feeding have always been extolled by experts, and the contribution of breast feeding in reducing the chances of stomach, ear, and respiratory infections and allergic conditions in children is well known. It is also known to benefit the mothers in lowering their risk of breast cancer and osteoporosis.
Rachael Knight, a counsellor in Scotland, said: 'Bottle-feeding is still considered the norm everywhere, whether it is in seeing the feeding of babies on television to kids' toys coming complete with dummies and bottles. But this shouldn't be the norm - it should be the exception.'