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​Lewisham GPs join forces in support of World Breastfeeding Week​

GPs in Lewisham are joining the global movement to highlight the importance of breastfeeding in giving children the best start in life and setting a path for future wellbeing during World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August).

In 2015, world leaders committed to 17 goals aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Breastfeeding has a crucial role to play in helping to achieve some of these goals, in particular tackling poverty, health and well-being and reducing our impact on the environment.

"Breastfeeding lays the foundation for good health for all children, both in the short term and long term" says Dr Marc Rowland local GP and Chair of NHS Lewisham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).  "In 2010, 83 per cent of babies in England were initially breastfed at birth, but this rate drops significantly to 24 per cent by the time babies reach six weeks of age." [1]

"On a global level, less than 40 per cent of babies under six months of age are exclusively breastfed.[2]  The World Health Organisation recommends that women continue breastfeeding for the first two years of a child's life, so it's important that we understand the barriers to achieving this and reducing these as much as possible."


Why is breastfeeding important?

As well as providing the foundation for good health in the future, breastfeeding has also been associated with a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer in women.  It's estimated that around 20,000 deaths from breast cancer could be avoided every year if mothers continued to breastfeed their children from birth to at least two years of age.[3]

In addition, it's estimated that more than 800,000 children die annually due to poor nutrition associated with a lack of breast feeding.[4]

"In the UK, we are lucky to have high quality maternity advice and services provided through the NHS and partner organisations, as well as strict maternity protections by law" continues Dr Marc Rowland.  "Making the most of these services can help to ensure that mothers and their children achieve the best possible health outcomes, especially during the first, crucial few years of life."

"You can talk to your Health Visitor, midwife or GP at any time to discuss any issues or concerns you may have with your pregnancy or your infant's health, including breastfeeding advice and support."

For more information on maternity services in your area, visit NHS Choices at

To find out more about World Breastfeeding Week, visit

[3] Victora, Cesar G et al. Breastfeeding in the 21st Century; epidemiology, mechanisms and lifelong effect. The Lancet. 2016

[4] Victora, Cesar G et al. Breastfeeding in the 21st Century; epidemiology, mechanisms and lifelong effect. The Lancet. 2016