Ireland has lowest breast-feeding rates in Europe

A scientific report published by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI ) highlights key recommendations to improve the nation’s baby feeding patterns and nutrition. Scientific Recommendations for a National Infant Feeding Policy in Ireland highlights a number of key concerns with current infant feeding trends and outlines specific actions and advice to improve the nutritional diet of mums-to-be and infants from birth to one year. The report is based on research into infant feeding practices in Ireland and the latest international scientific opinion. It states that emerging evidence worldwide shows good nutrition during pregnancy and throughout an infant’s first year, can have a significant positive impact on health throughout a person’s life.

According to Dr Mary Flynn, chief specialist public health nutrition, FSAI, research into infant feeding in Ireland over the past few years shows that practices are far from ideal. Ireland has the lowest breast feeding rates in Europe. The weaning of infants from milk to solid food is also found to be an area that needs particular attention as an estimated 71 per cent of babies are being weaned onto solid foods too early.

Ms Ita Saul, chair of the FSAI expert working group which produced the report, states that breast-feeding has tremendous potential to protect babies’ and mothers’ health – both present and future, and it continues to be the gold standard for infant feeding.

“During the first year of life, babies triple their birth weight and double their surface area making this a period of very rapid growth which is never repeated during the lifecycle. More work needs to be done to increase the numbers of babies being breast-fed in Ireland today and to improve weaning practices in terms of when solid food is first introduced and what types of foods are used. Parents in Ireland want, and need, more practical food-based information to cover all stages of infant life.”

The report and its practical guidance document are both freely available from or by contacting the FSAI advice line on 1890 336 677.


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