Press Release

Minister addresses Inaugural Meeting of National Committee on Breastfeeding

“The promotion of breastfeeding in Ireland is indeed a priority which deserves our best efforts,” said Minister of Health and Children, Mr Micheál Martin, TD, today (20 March, 2002) when he addressed the inaugural meeting of the new National Committee on Breastfeeding. This committee will work with the National Breastfeeding Co-ordinator, in partnership with community workers, in the effective implementation of the National Breastfeeding Policy.

“In creating greater awareness and support for breastfeeding in Ireland, the establishment of a National Committee on Breastfeeding and the appointment of a National Breastfeeding Co-ordinator were of great importance. I am pleased that we have realised these goals,” said the Minister.

Minister Martin acknowledged that the majority of Irish infants are not breastfed and are therefore deprived of the major nutritional, immunological and psychological benefits which breastfeeding confers. “The evidence for the superiority of breastfeeding for mothers and children is very compelling and this body of evidence is growing all the time,” said the Minister.

Research indicates that many of the health-enhancing and disease-preventative benefits of breastfeeding in infancy are sustained throughout childhood and into adulthood. There are health benefits for breastfeeding mothers too, as they have some protection against pre-menopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis in later life. Just as importantly, breastfeeding provides a unique and precious early bonding experience for infants and their mothers that contributes greatly to the baby´s psychological, emotional and social development.

The Minister referred to the commitment contained within the Strategy, Quality and Fairness – a health system for you to re-establishing a breastfeeding culture in Ireland and the need for an intersectoral approach.

“The need for collaborative action from a number of agencies both within and outside of the health system is imperative to achieve and sustain higher breastfeeding rates. The broad range of organisations represented here today is indicative of an acceptance for this approach,” he concluded.