Skip to content

Infant feeding survey

Bookmark and Share
  • Release date: 20 November 2012
  • Period covered: 2010
A report, published by the NHS Information Centre, includes data on breastfeeding and mothers smoking during pregnancy.

The main aim of the survey is to provide individual estimates for the four countries of the UK on the incidence, prevalence and duration of breastfeeding and other feeding practices adopted by mothers.

The full survey report is attached. It includes details of incidence, prevalence and duration of breastfeeding as well as details of the birth and post-natal care, feeding and health after the early weeks, the introduction of solid foods and additional drinks, feeding outside the home, and dietary supplements, smoking and drinking. Methodological background for the survey is also included.

Key points

Incidence and prevalence of breastfeeding(1)

  • Breastfeeding rates for Wales showed an initial incidence rate of 71% up from 67% at the last survey in 2005. This was less than in England (83%) and Scotland (74%) but more than in Northern Ireland (64%).
  • The highest incidences of breastfeeding were found among mothers aged 30 or over (81%), those who left education aged over 18 (85%), and those in managerial and professional occupations (85%).These variations were evident in both Wales and the other UK countries.
  • Between 2005 and 2010, increases in the prevalence of breastfeeding were observed in Wales (for example, from 18% to 23% when the baby was aged six months), this compares with an increase from 25% to 34% at six months at the UK level.

Exclusive breastfeeding(2)

  • In 2010, 36% of all mothers in Wales were breastfeeding exclusively at one week, while 17% were at six weeks. This compared to 46% of all mothers in the UK breastfeeding exclusively at one week, and 23% at six weeks. Prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding was lower in Wales and Northern Ireland than in England and Scotland. At six months the proportion of mothers who were breastfeeding exclusively in all UK countries was negligible, as was the case in 2005.

Smoking and drinking in pregnancy

  • Smoking levels before or during pregnancy were highest in Wales compared with the other countries although a decrease in the proportion of mothers smoking before or during pregnancy since 2005 was seen in all countries (from 37% in 2005 to 33% in 2010 in Wales).
  • In 2010, mothers in Wales and (39%) and England (41%) were more likely to have drunk alcohol during pregnancy compared with mothers in Northern Ireland and Scotland but a decrease in the proportion of mothers drinking during pregnancy since 2005 was seen in all countries (from 55% in 2005 to 39% in 2010 in Wales).

Early days

  • Nearly seven in ten mothers breastfeeding in the hospital, birth centre or unit (69%) had been shown how to put their baby to the breast in the first few days in the UK. At a country level this was higher in Wales (73%), Northern Ireland (71%) and Scotland (71%) than in England (68%).


(1) Incidence refers to all babies who were breastfed initially; prevalence refers to the proportion of babies who were wholly or partially breastfed at specific ages.
(2) An infant is exclusively breastfed if they receive only breast milk, but no other liquids or solids except for medicine, vitamins or mineral supplements.


Tel: 029 2080 5039


  • Details
Keep up to date @StatisticsWales@StatisticsWales Sign up to our newsletterSign up to our newsletter