Health Heart



Information component P4 Health Summary – Indicator 8
Subject category / domain(s) Giving children and young people a healthy start
Indicator name (* Indicator title in health profile) Initiation of breastfeeding (“Breastfeeding”)
PHO with lead responsibility ERPHO
Date of PHO dataset creation N/A
Indicator definition Breastfeeding initiation, proportion, all ages, [time period], females
Geography County/ LA not available
Timeliness Annual
Rationale:What this indicator purports to measure Breastfeeding
Rationale:Public Health Importance Breast milk is the best form of nutrition for infants. The DH recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life, with breastfeeding continuing after this age, along with other types of solid foods. Althoughnot all mothers will achieve this, even a short period of breastfeeding confers benefit on the infant, and should be encouraged.There is a large body of evidence that has show breast-feeding to be associated with better infant and child health, helping to protect infants against gastroenteritis and respiratory infections, otitis media, urinary tract infection, atopic disease and possibly obesity. Breastfeeding is also beneficial to the mother’s health. Breastfeeding is thus likely to make an important contribution towards meeting the target to reduce inequalities in infant mortality. DH. Health Inequalities: national targets on infant mortality and life expectancy; technical briefing. London 2002.
Rationale: Purpose behind the inclusion of the indicator This indicator is collected a part of the performance framework for PCOs and is considered to be indicative of good child health, a marker for inequality as breastfeeding rates tend to be lower in disadvantaged groups and of well performing health services for mothers and children.
Rationale:Reason for Gap It was not included in HP 2007 for 3 reasons:

  1. Ongoing doubts about the quality of the data
  2. Inability to attribute the data from produce local authority estimates from PCO estimates
  3. Doubts about the utility of the indicator as collected as a proxy for sustained breastfeeding. The indicator measures only whether baby received breast milk at least once within the first 48 hours rather than sustained breastfeeding likely to deliver benefits. The argument is made that mothers who haven’t initiated breastfeeding within the first 48 hours rarely do so later, but it is unknown what proportion persist. From a health inequalities perspective it seems reasonable to focus attention in the early period to encourage disadvantaged groups to initiate breast feeding

Further work is needed on this indicator to test its fitness for purpose for HP3 and to devise a strategy for improving its utility.

Rationale:Policy relevance Children’s NSFPriorities and planning framework 2003-6
Interpretation: What a high / low level of indicator value means N/A
Interpretation: Potential for error due to type of measurement method N/A
Interpretation: Potential for error due to bias and confounding N/A
Confidence Intervals: Definition and purpose N/A


Indicator definition: Variable Breastfeeding initiation
Indicator definition: Statistic Proportion of maternities
Indicator definition: Gender Female
Indicator definition: age group All ages
Indicator definition: period [time period]
Indicator definition: scale %
Geography: geographies available for this indicator from other providers England, GOR, SHA, PCO
Dimensions of inequality: subgroup analyses of this dataset available from other providers
Data extraction: Source Local Delivery Plans returns (LDPR)
Data extraction: source URL UNIFY2 (DH reporting system)
Data extraction: date N/A
Numerator: definition Number of new maternities initiating breastfeeding
Numerator: source LDPR
Denominator: definition Number of maternities
Denominator: source LDPR
Data quality: Accuracy and completeness N/A

Posted in: Indicators