Nutrition & Diet for Healthy Lifestyles in Europe

Breastfeeding determinants and a suggested framework for action in Europe

Agneta Yngve1* and Michael Sjöström1,2 

  1. Unit for Preventive Nutrition, Department of Biosciences, Karolinska Institutet, SE 141 57 Huddinge, Sweden
  2. Department of Physical Education and Health, University of Örebro, SE 701 82 Örebro, Sweden

Short Title: Promotion of breastfeeding 

Keywords : Breastfeeding, Infant Feeding, Monitoring, Prevalence, Health Policy, Health Promotion, Disease Prevention, Equity, Determinants

This is a background paper for the EURODIET initiative. A number of international initiatives and documents were identified, such as the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes and a number of consensus reports from professional groups, that propose ways forward for breastfeeding promotion. These point at a range of initiatives on different levels. The determinants for successful breastfeeding have to be identified. They can be categorised into five groups; socio-demographic, psycho-social, health care related, community- and policy attributes. A framework for future breastfeeding promoting efforts on European level is suggested, within which these determinants are considered. 
A common surveillance system needs to be built in Europe, where determinants of breastfeeding are included. There is also a need for a surveillance system which makes it possible to use the collected data on local level, not only on national and supranational level. Combined with a thorough review of the effectiveness of already existing breastfeeding promotion programmes, a co-ordinated EU – EFTA action plan on breastfeeding should be formulated and implemented within a few years. Urgent action could take place in parallel, especially targeting young, low-income, less educated mothers.


* Corresponding author: Fax: +46 8 608 3350, Email:


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