More mothers engaged in breast-feeding

02/08/2005 14:00

In 2004 three-quarters of women started breast-feeding soon after delivery. After six months the rate had dropped to one in three mothers. These rates are respectively 7 and 11 percentage points higher than in 1997. Mainly highly-educated women are engaged in breast-feeding and sustain breast-feeding longer.

Increase in breast-feeding mothers since 1997

In 2004 more than 76 percent of babies were breast-fed from the moment they were born and 63 percent of six-weeks-old babies were breast-fed. After three months the rate dropped to 54 percent, after six months to 33 percent. All rates are higher than in 1997. In recent years the proportion of women who sustained breast-feeding beyond six months has risen markedly.

Breast-feeding by age of the baby

Breast-feeding by age of the baby

Older mums sustain breast-feeding longer

Older mums sustain breast-feeding longer. In 2004 half of older mothers (aged 35-44) still breast-fed their child after they were six months old, whereas only one quarter of mothers in the age category 15-24 did.

Highly-educated women breast-feed more often and longer

Highly-educated women (at vocational college or university level) more often choose to breast-feed their babies. In the period 2002-2004 an average 89 percent of higher-educated mothers started breast-feeding immediately after delivery, as against 69 percent of low-educated mothers. The gap widens as the baby grows older: twice as many higher-educated mother sustain breast-feeding beyond six-months as low-educated mothers.

Breast-feeding by education level of the mother, 2002/2004

Breast-feeding by education level of the mother, 2002/2004

Children born at home more often breast-fed

The place of birth also affects the breast-feeding rate. Eight in ten babies born at home are breast-fed, as against less than seven in ten babies born in hospital (excluding babies born in polyclinic departments).

Breast-feeding by country of birth of the mother, 1997/2004

Breast-feeding by country of birth of the mother, 1997/2004

Breast-feeding popular among non-western foreigners

More mothers with a non-western foreign background than native Dutch mothers breast-feed their babies. Breast-feeding is most common among Turkish mothers, but it is also common practice among Moroccan and Surinamese mothers. Differences between the various ethnic backgrounds become less prominent as the babies grow older.

Frans Frenken