Tag Archives: Mother

Mother killed herself after ‘serious failure’ by mental health unit

A mother who killed herself while suffering from postnatal depression died as a result of a “very serious failure” that allowed her to leave a mental health unit unchaperoned, a coroner has ruled.

Despite having made multiple attempts to kill herself, 32-year-old Polly Ross was allowed to leave the Westlands mental health unit in Hull at about 8.30am on 12 July 2015, telling nurses that she was going to buy cigarettes. She was hit by a train at 11.10am and died instantly.

Speaking at the end of a four-day hearing, coroner Prof Paul Marks said he could not rule that Humber NHS foundation trust had been guilty of clinical neglect, but said the decision to allow her to leave the unit “had a direct causal effect” on her death.

Her mother, Jo Hogg, who was previously employed by the trust as an occupational therapist, thanked the coroner for conducting a “frank and fearless examination” of the circumstances surrounding her daughter’s death.

She said the trust had failed her daughter when she had needed their help the most and that care for women with postnatal depression in the region was “appalling”. She said that mental health services were “not joined up in a way that pays close regard to the complex needs of patients”.

The court heard how Ross, who ran a translation business in Paris before moving back to east Yorkshire in August 2012, had suffered from the extreme form of morning sickness, hyperemesis gravidarum, during both her pregnancies in 2012 and 2014. The condition has received media attention after it was revealed that the Duchess of Cambridge suffered from it during her pregnancies.

The condition caused Ross – who was described as “staggeringly intelligent” – to be hospitalised and put on a drip, which was said to have compounded her mental health issues. The inquest was told that she developed “drug-induced psychosis” after taking cannabis to relieve her symptoms and that when she asked to be admitted to a specialist mother and baby unit in Leeds, she was turned down.

In February 2015, the linguist was sectioned after a breakdown and her children were taken from her care. Over the coming weeks and months she regularly expressed suicidal thoughts and attended A&E on multiple occasions having self harmed or taken an overdose.

In a statement read to the court, Ross’s aunt Emma May, who acted as her carer after she was first sectioned, said she was certain that the few times her niece had left her home since February “were times she attempted to take her own life”. She said: “I cannot understand how she was allowed to leave the unit to buy her own cigarettes the morning she died.”

Giving evidence to the inquest, Dr Robert Kehoe, a Bradford-based consultant psychiatrist, said that while the overall standard of Ross’s care had been good, there were two serious failures on the part of Humber NHS foundation trust.

“One: there was a failure to clarify and state a plan for what should occur in the situation of a patient requesting to leave the unit,” he said. “Two: the effective decision to end the period of 15-minute observations allowed her to leave the unit at around 8.40am that day.”

Ross’s observations had been increased from once an hour to once every 15 minutes on 10 July after a ligature was found in her room. She was not sectioned at the time of her death, but Kehoe said there was “no logic” in increasing her observations only to allow her to leave the unit unescorted.

In a statement, Humber NHS foundation trust said: “We would like to offer our sincerest condolences to Polly’s mother, aunt, other family members and friends for their tragic loss. The thoughts of everyone associated with the trust continue to be with them at this sad time.

“We would also like to offer an unreserved apology to Polly’s family and friends and acknowledge that there were omissions in her care prior to her death on 12 July 2015. The trust acknowledges Prof Marks’ conclusion regarding the circumstances surrounding Polly’s death and has fully implemented all of the recommended improvements highlighted by our investigations.

“The trust will continue to reflect and learn and seek to continually improve the services we provide to patients.”

In October 2015, Marks ruled that Humber NHS foundation trust was guilty of neglect in the case of Sally Mays, 22, who killed herself after being turned away for inpatient mental health care. The same year, a coroner in Bristol raised concerns about mental healthcare for new mothers after 30-year-old Charlotte Bevan jumped off a cliff clutching her baby girl following a “chain of failures” by medical staff.

In the UK the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

Olaseni Lewis’s mother backs new restraint laws for mental health units

The mother of a man who died after prolonged restraint by police in a mental health hospital has given her support to a bill to make police and medics more accountable for the use of force against patients.

Ajibola Lewis, whose son Olaseni died after he was subjected to what an inquest described as “disproportionate and unreasonable” restraint at Bethlem Royal hospital in London, said if the new law could help other vulnerable people then her son’s death would not have been in vain.

Steve Reed, the Labour MP for Croydon, will introduce the mental health units (use of force) bill – called Seni’s law – for its second reading on Friday. He believes he has strong cross-party support for the new law.

The private member’s bill would require mental health care providers to keep records about the use of force – including the age, gender and ethnicity of those restrained – and require any police who restrain patients to wear video cameras. It will also call for a clearly defined chain of accountability, with a senior named figure responsible for drafting a use-of-force policy and ensuring staff are trained to deliver it. A death would trigger an immediate independent investigation.

“Those four broad areas of transparency, evidence, accountability and justice would make a very big impact in reducing the likelihood of disproportionate force by either physical restraint or chemical restraint being used against people,” Reed said.

“And it would also expose the extent to which there is bias, particularly against young black men in the system, who appear much more likely to end up dead.”

Reed became aware of his black constituents’ unease with mental health services at a community meeting where he had mentioned Olaseni Lewis’s case. “They all knew someone in their family or somebody close to them who’d had such a bad experience that they themselves were fearful of using the mental health services,” he said.

“So what the terrible Olaseni case shows [is] it’s part of a much bigger problem in the health services that has left a very big part of our BAME population fearing the racial bias [that] is so deeply ingrained that they don’t use the service.”

Olaseni Lewis was 23 when his mother and father took him to hospital after he suffered an episode of mental ill-health that began over the August bank holiday weekend in 2010. Despite calming down after several hours at the Maudsley hospital, he agreed to go to Bethlem for an overnight stay as a voluntary patient.

When he tried to leave Bethlem medics called police for help. He died on 3 September of a hypoxic brain injury. An inquest jury in May identified a series of failures by both police and medical staff, but in October six police officers were cleared of any wrongdoing over his death.

Ajibola Lewis said she hoped the law would help other people who are admitted to mental health units. “I’d rather have my son back, but since he’s been taken from us by the restraint of 11 police officers, he’s not with us,” she said.

“This is something that hopefully people will remember and he won’t have died in complete vain.

“Steve Reed has really taken this on board and he’s been very supportive. I think he’s deeply touched, he’s wanted to do something and we’re really happy about that because it’s going to help others, hopefully – if it doesn’t get watered down. The thing is, it’s for the MPs to turn up and to vote for it and for it to go through.”

Reed’s bill has been drafted with the help of the Lewis family’s solicitor, Raju Bhatt, and has the backing of a number of organisations, including the mental health charities Mind and Rethink, the Royal College of Nursing, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Deborah Coles, director of Inquest, which has supported the Lewis family since the tragedy, said she hoped the bill would lead to vulnerable people being restrained less often. “It would be a very important legacy for Seni Lewis, and something really positive that can come out of such an unacceptable set of circumstances,” she said.

Prof Wendy Burn, the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “This bill would ensure that proper procedures and oversight of restraint are in place, to minimise what can be a very distressing experience.

“The safety and wellbeing of our patients and staff is of the utmost importance, and I hope all MPs will support this bill.”

Olaseni Lewis’s mother backs new restraint laws for mental health units

The mother of a man who died after prolonged restraint by police in a mental health hospital has given her support to a bill to make police and medics more accountable for the use of force against patients.

Ajibola Lewis, whose son Olaseni died after he was subjected to what an inquest described as “disproportionate and unreasonable” restraint at Bethlem Royal hospital in London, said if the new law could help other vulnerable people then her son’s death would not have been in vain.

Steve Reed, the Labour MP for Croydon, will introduce the mental health units (use of force) bill – called Seni’s law – for its second reading on Friday. He believes he has strong cross-party support for the new law.

The private member’s bill would require mental health care providers to keep records about the use of force – including the age, gender and ethnicity of those restrained – and require any police who restrain patients to wear video cameras. It will also call for a clearly defined chain of accountability, with a senior named figure responsible for drafting a use-of-force policy and ensuring staff are trained to deliver it. A death would trigger an immediate independent investigation.

“Those four broad areas of transparency, evidence, accountability and justice would make a very big impact in reducing the likelihood of disproportionate force by either physical restraint or chemical restraint being used against people,” Reed said.

“And it would also expose the extent to which there is bias, particularly against young black men in the system, who appear much more likely to end up dead.”

Reed became aware of his black constituents’ unease with mental health services at a community meeting where he had mentioned Olaseni Lewis’s case. “They all knew someone in their family or somebody close to them who’d had such a bad experience that they themselves were fearful of using the mental health services,” he said.

“So what the terrible Olaseni case shows [is] it’s part of a much bigger problem in the health services that has left a very big part of our BAME population fearing the racial bias [that] is so deeply ingrained that they don’t use the service.”

Olaseni Lewis was 23 when his mother and father took him to hospital after he suffered an episode of mental ill-health that began over the August bank holiday weekend in 2010. Despite calming down after several hours at the Maudsley hospital, he agreed to go to Bethlem for an overnight stay as a voluntary patient.

When he tried to leave Bethlem medics called police for help. He died on 3 September of a hypoxic brain injury. An inquest jury in May identified a series of failures by both police and medical staff, but in October six police officers were cleared of any wrongdoing over his death.

Ajibola Lewis said she hoped the law would help other people who are admitted to mental health units. “I’d rather have my son back, but since he’s been taken from us by the restraint of 11 police officers, he’s not with us,” she said.

“This is something that hopefully people will remember and he won’t have died in complete vain.

“Steve Reed has really taken this on board and he’s been very supportive. I think he’s deeply touched, he’s wanted to do something and we’re really happy about that because it’s going to help others, hopefully – if it doesn’t get watered down. The thing is, it’s for the MPs to turn up and to vote for it and for it to go through.”

Reed’s bill has been drafted with the help of the Lewis family’s solicitor, Raju Bhatt, and has the backing of a number of organisations, including the mental health charities Mind and Rethink, the Royal College of Nursing, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Deborah Coles, director of Inquest, which has supported the Lewis family since the tragedy, said she hoped the bill would lead to vulnerable people being restrained less often. “It would be a very important legacy for Seni Lewis, and something really positive that can come out of such an unacceptable set of circumstances,” she said.

Prof Wendy Burn, the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists said: “This bill would ensure that proper procedures and oversight of restraint are in place, to minimise what can be a very distressing experience.

“The safety and wellbeing of our patients and staff is of the utmost importance, and I hope all MPs will support this bill.”

Mother preferred Dr over Miss or Mrs | Brief letters

Alison Hackett (Letters, 17 August) complains at the use of “Dr” and “Prof” titles. But they can prove useful. Our mother Anne McLaren (a single parent, and a biologist who, working with mice, created the world’s first IVF birth, and became the first woman officer of the Royal Society in their 300-year history, as foreign secretary and vice-president), was asked, “Is it ‘Miss’ or ‘Mrs’?”. We three kids watched and wondered how she would respond. “No,” she said firmly, “It’s ‘Dr’.”
Prof Jonathan Michie
President, Kellogg College, Oxford

If the editor wants to fill the letters page with letters from Margarets (Letters, 17 August), she should act soon, as peak Margaret was in 1900 when it was third most popular name for baby girls. When I had come on the scene in the late 1930s it was eighth, and by the time politics became aware of Maggie Thatcher it lingered at 95th. We are a dying breed.
Margaret Squires
St Andrews, Fife

For a small fee I’m sure that I and my colleagues in Shrewsbury Handbells (or our cowbell ensemble) would be happy to stand in for Big Ben (G2, 16 August), though musically the tune is not nearly as challenging as most of our repertoire.
Bill Britnell
Shrewsbury, Shropshire

Two letters (16 August) from mothers fuming that they can’t buy shoes or clothes for their daughters that are not pink and sparkly. I agree, it’s stupid. But in the meantime can’t they buy them some boys’ shoes or T-shirts? Would the difference be in any way obvious?
Kath Howard
Telford, Shropshire

I have always felt that the notice “Dogs must be carried on the escalator” was an unnecessary burden on non-dog-owning travellers (Letters, 17 August).
Karl Sabbagh
Bloxham, Oxfordshire

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

Mother preferred Dr over Miss or Mrs | Brief letters

Alison Hackett (Letters, 17 August) complains at the use of “Dr” and “Prof” titles. But they can prove useful. Our mother Anne McLaren (a single parent, and a biologist who, working with mice, created the world’s first IVF birth, and became the first woman officer of the Royal Society in their 300-year history, as foreign secretary and vice-president), was asked, “Is it ‘Miss’ or ‘Mrs’?”. We three kids watched and wondered how she would respond. “No,” she said firmly, “It’s ‘Dr’.”
Prof Jonathan Michie
President, Kellogg College, Oxford

If the editor wants to fill the letters page with letters from Margarets (Letters, 17 August), she should act soon, as peak Margaret was in 1900 when it was third most popular name for baby girls. When I had come on the scene in the late 1930s it was eighth, and by the time politics became aware of Maggie Thatcher it lingered at 95th. We are a dying breed.
Margaret Squires
St Andrews, Fife

For a small fee I’m sure that I and my colleagues in Shrewsbury Handbells (or our cowbell ensemble) would be happy to stand in for Big Ben (G2, 16 August), though musically the tune is not nearly as challenging as most of our repertoire.
Bill Britnell
Shrewsbury, Shropshire

Two letters (16 August) from mothers fuming that they can’t buy shoes or clothes for their daughters that are not pink and sparkly. I agree, it’s stupid. But in the meantime can’t they buy them some boys’ shoes or T-shirts? Would the difference be in any way obvious?
Kath Howard
Telford, Shropshire

I have always felt that the notice “Dogs must be carried on the escalator” was an unnecessary burden on non-dog-owning travellers (Letters, 17 August).
Karl Sabbagh
Bloxham, Oxfordshire

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

Mother preferred Dr over Miss or Mrs | Brief letters

Alison Hackett (Letters, 17 August) complains at the use of “Dr” and “Prof” titles. But they can prove useful. Our mother Anne McLaren (a single parent, and a biologist who, working with mice, created the world’s first IVF birth, and became the first woman officer of the Royal Society in their 300-year history, as foreign secretary and vice-president), was asked, “Is it ‘Miss’ or ‘Mrs’?”. We three kids watched and wondered how she would respond. “No,” she said firmly, “It’s ‘Dr’.”
Prof Jonathan Michie
President, Kellogg College, Oxford

If the editor wants to fill the letters page with letters from Margarets (Letters, 17 August), she should act soon, as peak Margaret was in 1900 when it was third most popular name for baby girls. When I had come on the scene in the late 1930s it was eighth, and by the time politics became aware of Maggie Thatcher it lingered at 95th. We are a dying breed.
Margaret Squires
St Andrews, Fife

For a small fee I’m sure that I and my colleagues in Shrewsbury Handbells (or our cowbell ensemble) would be happy to stand in for Big Ben (G2, 16 August), though musically the tune is not nearly as challenging as most of our repertoire.
Bill Britnell
Shrewsbury, Shropshire

Two letters (16 August) from mothers fuming that they can’t buy shoes or clothes for their daughters that are not pink and sparkly. I agree, it’s stupid. But in the meantime can’t they buy them some boys’ shoes or T-shirts? Would the difference be in any way obvious?
Kath Howard
Telford, Shropshire

I have always felt that the notice “Dogs must be carried on the escalator” was an unnecessary burden on non-dog-owning travellers (Letters, 17 August).
Karl Sabbagh
Bloxham, Oxfordshire

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

Mother preferred Dr over Miss or Mrs | Brief letters

Alison Hackett (Letters, 17 August) complains at the use of “Dr” and “Prof” titles. But they can prove useful. Our mother Anne McLaren (a single parent, and a biologist who, working with mice, created the world’s first IVF birth, and became the first woman officer of the Royal Society in their 300-year history, as foreign secretary and vice-president), was asked, “Is it ‘Miss’ or ‘Mrs’?”. We three kids watched and wondered how she would respond. “No,” she said firmly, “It’s ‘Dr’.”
Prof Jonathan Michie
President, Kellogg College, Oxford

If the editor wants to fill the letters page with letters from Margarets (Letters, 17 August), she should act soon, as peak Margaret was in 1900 when it was third most popular name for baby girls. When I had come on the scene in the late 1930s it was eighth, and by the time politics became aware of Maggie Thatcher it lingered at 95th. We are a dying breed.
Margaret Squires
St Andrews, Fife

For a small fee I’m sure that I and my colleagues in Shrewsbury Handbells (or our cowbell ensemble) would be happy to stand in for Big Ben (G2, 16 August), though musically the tune is not nearly as challenging as most of our repertoire.
Bill Britnell
Shrewsbury, Shropshire

Two letters (16 August) from mothers fuming that they can’t buy shoes or clothes for their daughters that are not pink and sparkly. I agree, it’s stupid. But in the meantime can’t they buy them some boys’ shoes or T-shirts? Would the difference be in any way obvious?
Kath Howard
Telford, Shropshire

I have always felt that the notice “Dogs must be carried on the escalator” was an unnecessary burden on non-dog-owning travellers (Letters, 17 August).
Karl Sabbagh
Bloxham, Oxfordshire

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

Mother preferred Dr over Miss or Mrs | Brief letters

Alison Hackett (Letters, 17 August) complains at the use of “Dr” and “Prof” titles. But they can prove useful. Our mother Anne McLaren (a single parent, and a biologist who, working with mice, created the world’s first IVF birth, and became the first woman officer of the Royal Society in their 300-year history, as foreign secretary and vice-president), was asked, “Is it ‘Miss’ or ‘Mrs’?”. We three kids watched and wondered how she would respond. “No,” she said firmly, “It’s ‘Dr’.”
Prof Jonathan Michie
President, Kellogg College, Oxford

If the editor wants to fill the letters page with letters from Margarets (Letters, 17 August), she should act soon, as peak Margaret was in 1900 when it was third most popular name for baby girls. When I had come on the scene in the late 1930s it was eighth, and by the time politics became aware of Maggie Thatcher it lingered at 95th. We are a dying breed.
Margaret Squires
St Andrews, Fife

For a small fee I’m sure that I and my colleagues in Shrewsbury Handbells (or our cowbell ensemble) would be happy to stand in for Big Ben (G2, 16 August), though musically the tune is not nearly as challenging as most of our repertoire.
Bill Britnell
Shrewsbury, Shropshire

Two letters (16 August) from mothers fuming that they can’t buy shoes or clothes for their daughters that are not pink and sparkly. I agree, it’s stupid. But in the meantime can’t they buy them some boys’ shoes or T-shirts? Would the difference be in any way obvious?
Kath Howard
Telford, Shropshire

I have always felt that the notice “Dogs must be carried on the escalator” was an unnecessary burden on non-dog-owning travellers (Letters, 17 August).
Karl Sabbagh
Bloxham, Oxfordshire

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

Connor Sparrowhawk’s mother felt ‘distressed’ at his care before death

The mother of a vulnerable teenager who drowned in a bath at an NHS care unit has said she felt “deeply uncomfortable and distressed” about his care weeks before he died.

Connor Sparrowhawk, 18, died after an epileptic seizure in the bath at Slade House, Oxfordshire, in July 2013.

His mother, Dr Sara Ryan, told a tribunal on Tuesday her son walked into the unit as a “family member and schoolboy” but within a week he had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act and her visits had been curtailed.

She said: “I felt, as I feel now, deeply uncomfortable and distressed and at a loss really but we went through the process.”

Ryan, a senior researcher at the University of Oxford, was giving evidence at the tribunal of Dr Valerie Murphy, the lead clinician in charge of Connor’s care.

Murphy on Monday admitted a string of failings over his death but a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service panel is hearing evidence on other allegations, which she denies.

In tearful exchanges with Murphy’s solicitor, Ryan described how her relationship with senior nurses at Slade House deteriorated in the weeks before Connor drowned in the bath on 4 July 2013.

Ryan, a respected academic who specialises in autism, said she found Murphy to be “dismissive, arrogant and distant” and difficult to get hold of.

“It might be coloured by what’s happened but I was expecting a bit of a knight in shining armour to step in and help Connor and that didn’t happen in any way,” Ryan said.

She told the tribunal that she would sit with her son when he took baths at home, sometimes for up to three hours. Asked whether she spoke to Connor’s nurses about sitting with him while he was in the bath, she said: “No, because I thought it was standard practice.”

The tribunal heard that Ryan felt “deeply uncomfortable” after a meeting with Murphy and other nurses on 10 June, four weeks before he died.

Ryan said she took along two friends, one the chief executive of a charity in Oxford, to the “brainstorming” meeting in which she asked why there seemed to be a lack of progress in Connor’s treatment.

“She [Murphy] did say he [Connor] wasn’t the typical patient in the unit and that most patients didn’t stay long, even though three of the five had been in there several months,” Ryan said.

She added: “I felt, as I feel now, deeply uncomfortable and distressed and at a loss really but we went through the process. I felt it wasn’t a good meeting and I know that the two people who came to support me … were deeply uncomfortable about it too.”

Richard Partridge, for Murphy, told the tribunal that some nurses at Slade House had read an anonymous blog written by Ryan that was seen to be critical of them.

Ryan had anonymised all details from the blog, including her son’s name and where he was being treated, but she nicknamed one of the nurses “Dr Crapshite”, the tribunal heard.

Partridge asked: “Do you think those comments about ‘Dr Crapshite’ might have made people wary of you?”

Ryan replied: “I’ve no idea. I’m not aware of that. Connor had gone into that unit as a family member and a schoolboy and he was sectioned on the first night.

“I spent the first Friday night sitting with him … I was upset he was an inpatient and I was told on the first Friday that I couldn’t just visit him because he was an adult. From there the whole situation was terrifying.”

The tribunal heard that a plan was drawn up to observe Connor every 10 minutes because of his epilepsy.

But a month before he died, Murphy agreed with a decision to cut observations to once an hour, even though he had recently bitten his tongue, which could have indicated a seizure.

On Tuesday, Connor’s consultant neurologist told the tribunal she did not believe it was safe to leave a patient with a history of epileptic seizures in the bath unattended.

Dr Jane Adcock said: “Normally I would suggest supervision or close supervision. Someone is nearby so they can hear if there’s any problems so they can make sure if they have a seizure in the bath someone is there to rescue them.”

Asked by Colette Neville, on the tribunal panel, whether checks on a patient every 15 minutes would be safe in that scenario, Adcock replied: “No, I wouldn’t have thought so.”

On the day he died, a nurse said he checked on Connor about 10 minutes after the bath had been run. The two did not speak but the teenager seemed fine, he said.

About 20 minutes later, another staff member told the nurse that Connor was submerged and his face blue. He was pronounced dead in hospital.

The teenager, who was affectionately known as Laughing Boy (LB), had been diagnosed with autism, epilepsy and learning difficulties.

He was admitted to Slade House, a learning disability unit run by Southern Health NHS foundation trust, on 19 March 2013 and found dead 107 days later.

The tribunal continues.

Breastfeeding Q&A: is breast really best for mother and baby?

What is the evidence that breast is best?

A landmark Lancet series on breastfeeding in January last year was categorical. “Breast milk makes the world healthier, smarter, and more equal,” it said. It protects against infections, because a mother’s milk contains antibodies and immune cells. Exclusively breastfed infants in low and middle-income countries have only 12% of the risk of death of those who are not breastfed, the Lancet found.

Is the benefit only in poorer countries?

No. Even for infections, the Lancet found six good studies showing babies that had ever been breastfed had a 36% lower chance of sudden infant death syndrome, better known as cot death. It also had a protective effect against necrotising enterocolitis, a severe gut condition which can kill babies in any setting. Breastfeeding protected against diarrhoea, respiratory infections, dental problems and glue ear (otitis media).

What about allergies?

There was a small effect against asthma but not other allergic disorders such as eczema or food allergies.

Were there any long-term benefits?

Yes. Breastfeeding protected babies against becoming overweight and obese later in life. It also protected against type 2 diabetes, which can be weight-related. There was no impact on blood pressure or total cholesterol.

Can it actually improve a child’s brain power?

Breastfeeding has been shown to play a role in fostering a young child’s brain development and cognitive capacity. Some studies showed that children who had been breastfed had a 3.4 point higher IQ than those who had not, the Lancet series said. Studies that took into account the IQ of the mother found a smaller improvement, of 2.6 points, in breastfed babies.

Are there any benefits for the mother?

Yes. Studies show lower rates of breast and ovarian cancer in women who breastfeed.

How many women can’t breastfeed?

Medical literature suggests between 1 and 5% of women cannot produce enough milk to feed their baby. However, others may have problems because they are anxious, exhausted or depressed and are not given enough support in the early days. Some others will actively make the choice not to breastfeed.

Is formula milk the same as breast milk?

No. According to Which?, formula is derived from cow’s or goat’s milk and contains about 75 ingredients, while breast milk has an estimated 300. Formula is marketed as infant formula, with follow-on from the age of six months. Unicef claims the industry’s marketing and promotion is “a significant barrier to breastfeeding”. Its Call to Action campaign document last year said: “The UK has the 11th largest BMS [breast milk substitutes] market in the world, with sales projected to reach $ 907m (£688m) by 2019.”