A new study has been successful in linking an increase in breastfeeding mothers with offering incentives such as shopping vouchers to do so.
JAMA Pediatrics launched the controversial initiative in Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire; offering new mums up to £200 in shopping vouchers as an incentive to breastfeed their newborn babies.
The vouchers, which were valid in major supermarkets and stores, were used by the mothers to buy food and household items, as well as toys, clothes and even books and DVDs.
The Sheffield University-led study found that in the areas where mothers were given an incentive to breastfeed, breastfeeding rates increased, even if those areas usually had a very low number of new mothers wishing to breastfeed.
The researchers behind the study were motivated to start the study because the UK’s breastfeeding levels are some of the lowest in the world, with only 12% of newborn babies breastfed in some parts of the country.
Although breastfeeding is a personal choice and every mother and baby are different and entitled to making their own choice, the NHS lists the benefits of breastfeeding as including reducing a baby’s chances of becoming obese, developing eczema and type 2 diabetes, and even getting childhood leukaemia.
Mary Renfrew, of the University of Dundee, who is one of the authors of the study told the BBC: ‘It can be particularly difficult for women to breastfeed without strong family and community support, because of strong societal barriers.’
Those behind the study hope that a similar scheme may be used on a wider scale to help promote breastfeeding and encourage more mums to feed their babies, especially when they are very young, in this way.
What do you think? Are shopping vouchers and other incentives a good idea to encourage more mums to breastfeed their babies? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!