The Infant Feeding Survey is one of the main sources of statistics showing infant feeding practices in the United Kingdom.
The most recent Infant Feeding Survey was published in November 2012 giving figures on breastfeeding initiation in 2010. The main aim of these surveys is to provide estimates on the incidence, prevalence, and duration of breastfeeding and other feeding practices adopted by mothers in the first eight to ten months after their baby was born. A number of new questions were added to the survey in 2010, covering a range of topics including the Healthy Start scheme (a means-tested voucher scheme for pregnant women or mothers with children under 4 years old to help with basic food items), how mothers who had multiple births fed their babies, whether babies were full term or premature, as well as further exploration of the types of problems mothers may have experienced while breastfeeding.
The 2005 survey was the first to provide separate estimates for all four countries in the United Kingdom, as well as for the UK as a whole. This survey is published every five years.
New research shows a real, though small, increase in breastfeeding rates and other positive health behaviours. A summary of the Infant Feeding Survey 2010 and the 2005 Survey can be found in the Related documents section at the bottom of this page.
The statistical release of breastfeeding statistics by the Department of Health includes breastfeeding initiation and breastfeeding prevalence at 6-8 weeks.
Since 2003/04, each primary care trust has been required to submit quarterly data to the Department of Health on the number and percentage of mothers initiating breastfeeding and prevalence of breastfeeding at 6-8 weeks.
Annual breastfeeding statistics for Scotland can be found on the ISD Scotland website. These include breastfeeding by NHS Board, Council area and Community Health Partnership; breastfeeding by deprivation, maternal age and smoking status; duration of breastfeeding; and breastfeeding by hospital of birth.
Statistics for Wales published Births in Wales 2010 [PDF] in 2011. This document gives breastfeeding at birth by age of mother, by place of birth, by Local Health Board and by birthweight.