New mums are being offered up to £200 in shopping vouchers in a bid to promote breastfeeding.
A pilot scheme
An initial amount of £120 in shopping vouchers will be doled out if babies are fed naturally until they are six weeks old. Mothers will receive an additional £80 in shopping vouchers if they continue to breastfeed until their babies reach six months.
Researchers at the University of Sheffield are collaborating with experts in infant feeding research at the University of Dundee and health economics at Brunel University. The study is called Nourishing Start for Health that is being funded by the National Prevention Research Initiative.
The trial will involve 130 mothers in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire where breastfeeding is low. If this is successful, the scheme will later be rolled out to the rest of England.
There is no way to verify that babies are indeed being breastfed. However, mothers participating in this scheme have to fill in a form and the form has to be signed by midwives and health visitors to confirm that the baby has been breastfed.
The vouchers are meant to be used at high street shops and supermarkets. There is no system in place that would ensure that mothers don’t misuse the vouchers to buy alcohol and cigarettes.
Benefits of breastfeeding
Dr Clare Relton, principal investigator from the University of Sheffield’s School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), said: “Babies who are breastfed have fewer health problems such as upset tummies and chest infections, and are less likely to develop diabetes and obesity when they are older,”
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