Time to fund breastfeeding research

La Trobe University’s lead breastfeeding researcher has welcomed a national breastfeeding strategy and called for all recommendations to be fully funded.

The Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy: 2019 and beyond has been released in time for World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7, 2019).

It aims to increase the proportion of babies in Australia who are exclusively breastfed to around six months of age from the present rate of 15 per cent to 50 per cent by 2025.

The Strategy notes that Australia provides an enabling and empowering environment that protects, promotes, supports and values breastfeeding as the biological and social norm for infant and young child-feeding, but there has never been a national education program on breastfeeding.

La Trobe University Associate Professor Lisa Amir, who is also a GP and lactation consultant, was on the Strategy’s Breastfeeding Expert Reference Group.

Associate Professor Amir said a national public health campaign needs to be expertly designed, well-funded and sustained in order to bring about attitudinal and behavioural change.

“Currently the infant formula industry is a $66 billion global business, with the means to craft slick publicity campaigns targeting new parents and health professionals, so public health campaigns to support and empower breastfeeding parents are long overdue,” Associate Professor Amir said.

“To improve Australia’s breastfeeding rate we need better policy coordination, monitoring, research and evaluation,” she said.

Associate Professor Amir welcomed the Strategy’s recommendations for the Commonwealth to convene a national breastfeeding advisory committee, introduce five-yearly infant feeding surveys and support research around breastfeeding through the Medical Research Future Fund.  She called for full funding of all of these initiatives.

Media contact: Kathryn Powley | k.powley@latrobe.edu.au | 0456 764 371