In a recent study, researchers determine whether financial incentives would improve breastfeeding rates in a UK population.
Although breastfeeding and its numerous effects on a newborn’s well-being have long been established as being extremely beneficial, financial incentives could have greater effects on improving breastfeeding rates in communities where breastfeeding rates are low.
This study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, included 10,100 mothers and their infants from 92 selected hospital wards located in England. The trial, conducted between February 2015 and March 2016, was named the Nourishing Start for Health (NOSH). The researchers divided the participants into two groups: 5,398 in the intervention group of incentive plus usual care, while 4,612 comprised the control group receiving usual care alone.
The study followed the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative Standards with usual maternal and neonatal care and infant feeding services provided by midwives and other health professionals. Mothers in the incentive condition were provided shopping vouchers of 40 £ (roughly $50 US) after two days, ten days, six to eight weeks, three months and six months, provided that the mothers continued to breastfeed.
The researchers sought to determine the prevalence of breastfeeding between six to eight weeks during postnatal assessment visit. They additionally sought to determine the prevalence of breastfeeding initiation and exclusive breastfeeding at six to eight weeks.
The findings revealed that the intervention group versus the controlled group showed no significant differences in breastfeeding prevalence even after the researchers adjusted for baseline data of breastfeeding and weights. Additionally, no differences were observed for prevalence between initiated versus exclusive breastfeeding. The researchers concluded that the incentives could serve as measures to improve breastfeeding rates, but in this case, there was no difference found based on the routine data collected in this UK study.
Written by Dr. MòNique J. Grant Coke, DNP, MPH, BSN, Medical Writer
Reference: Relton, C., Strong, M., Thomas, K., Whelan, B., Walters, S., Burrows, J., Scott, E., Viksveen, P., Johnson, M., Baston, H., Fox-Rushby, J., Anokye, N.,Umney, D. & Renfrew, M. (2017). Effect of Financial Incentives on Breastfeeding. JAMA Pediatrics; e174523 DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.4523