Breast Milk Research and Policy


Breastfeeding is a powerful intervention in the prevention of disease and promotion of health in both infant and mother in the short and long term.

Yet breastfeeding rates in the UK are among the lowest worldwide, resulting in increased preventable illnesses for children and mothers and substantial associated costs to the health service.

Because infant feeding is socially patterned, low breastfeeding rates have a serious impact on inequalities in health.

The advantage of financial support (incentives) is its ability to attract and engage its target audience. The impact of financial support (incentives) to women for breastfeeding is a relatively unexplored area.

NOSH (Vouchers for breastfeeding)

The NPRI-funded NOSH (NOurishing Start for Health) study tested the feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness (both clinical/public health and cost effectiveness) of offering financial support to mothers to breastfeed in a areas in South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and North Nottinghamshire with low breastfeeding rates. It was hoped that offering vouchers to mothers would increase the prevalence and duration of breastfeeding.

The study had three stages, each with success criteria for progression to the next stage:

  • A) Development Stage: developing the intervention (completed June 2013) - NOSH Booklet
  • B) Feasibility Stage: testing the feasibility and deliverability of the intervention (completed July 2014)
  • C) Evaluation Stage: assessing the impact of the intervention using a cluster Randomised Controlled Trial and mixed methods process/context evaluation (completed September 2016)

The results of this study will be used to inform commissioners and other public health decision makers as to the acceptability, feasibility and cost-effectiveness of behaviour change support in the form of vouchers to mothers to breastfeed in neighbourhoods with low breastfeeding rates. If effective, the intervention could have a major impact on the long-term health of the population, reducing the risk of disease in infancy, childhood, and adulthood.