Return to breastfeeding in the United Kingdom: reasons, implementation, and prospects.
The Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS) in the UK established a Working Party of practicing pediatricians, midwives, and health visitors in June 1973 for the purpose of reviewing the then present-day practice in infant feeding. Published in 1974, the Report added an influential and important stimulus to the return to breastfeeding in the UK. The Report acknowledged to manufacturers that due to new technology the composition of artificial milk feeds more closely resembled that of human milk but stressed that the hazards to health for babies were largely due to the dissimilarities between even modified cows' milk feeds and human milk. There also were many different infant milk products on the market, resulting in a problem of choice for the mother and her professional advisors. Due to the fact that instructions for making up a feed varied from product to product, it was understandable that mistakes were made. The Working Party was convinced that an adequate volume of breast milk meant satisfactory growth and development and recommended that all mothers be encouraged to breastfeed. Further, recommendations for the encouragement of breastfeeding covered many aspects of education. The mass media were recognized as an important educational resource which could emphasize the advantages of breastfeeding. Another group of recommendations referred to artificial milk feeds; all such feeds were to approximate in composition as nearly as possible to human milk. Other recommendations advised against the introduction of solid foods before about 4 months of age and against the addition of sugar and salt to solid foods in the infant's diet. The remaining recommendations covered further research into the principles and practice of infant feeding, a review of legislation concerning the composition of artificial infant milk foods, and the collection of national statistics about infant feeding practice. In regard to implementation, recommendations about education are being put into effect slowly and steadily. The government has endorsed fully the aim and principles of a World Health Organization Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes, which was adopted in May 1981 by an overwhelming majority at the World Health Assembly. The Code emphasizes the importance of breastfeeding. As attitudes and prejudices die hard, continued education of those in the caring professions and the public is necessary.