Why we should do this: what the evidence says

Invest in cross-sector activities to support innovative research on infant feeding among academics, iwi and community providers.

Research explores the experiential, social, economic and cultural influences that contribute to infant feeding in New Zealand Aotearoa.

A strong evidence base for breastfeeding is recognised as a crucial component of ensuring that adequate resources are dedicated to breastfeeding (World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund 2003).


Ministry of Health | Manatū Hauora continues to strengthen the accuracy and completeness of the existing data set on breastfeeding rates.

The Global Strategy recommends that data on breastfeeding trends is collected and used to evaluate the impact of interventions. Having a complete and accurate data set is essential to this goal (World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund 2003).

Where are we now?

  • Some DHB breastfeeding activities are not informed by a comprehensive data set.
  • Research initiatives are underway to identify breastfeeding intentions, outcomes, barriers and enablers in New Zealand Aotearoa and internationally, but more research specific to New Zealand Aotearoa is needed.
  • Standard measures and indicators of breastfeeding do not capture the diversity of infant feeding practices in New Zealand Aotearoa.

Next steps

  • Create a WCTO DataMart to improve the quality of breastfeeding data.
  • Ensure data collected in Maternity Clinical Information Systems is able to be reported locally, nationally and to the Ministry of Health | Manatū Hauora.


Skafida V. 2014. Change in breastfeeding patterns in Scotland between 2004 and 2011 and the role of health policy. European Journal of Public Health. 24(6): 1033–41.

Skouteris H, Bailey C, Nagle C , et al. 2017. Interventions designed to promote exclusive breastfeeding in high-income countries: A systematic review update. Breastfeeding Medicine. 12(10): 604–14.

Smith J, Cattaneo A, Iellamo A, et al. 2018. Review of effective strategies to promote breastfeeding. New South Wales: Sax Institue for the Department of Health.

Stevenson S, Strategic Health Solutions Ltd (on behalf of Midland Maternity Action Group). 2017. Midland Breastfeeding Framework: A guide to support future service development to increase breastfeeding rates in the Midland region of New Zealand. New Zealand.

World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund. 2003. Global strategy for infant and young child feeding. Geneva: World Health Organization.