UCL News


Davina McCall thanks Camden and Islington mothers involved in new infant feeding study

30 November 2004

Last week the government White paper on Public Health highlighted the need to improve support provided to new mothers, particularly in relation to infant feeding.

UCL and Davina McCall are to thank volunteer mothers from Camden and Islington, who were involved in an innovative infant feeding study, on 7th December 2004 at UCL.

The aim of the study was to assess the effects of providing new mothers with volunteer support to encourage them to follow recommendations on breastfeeding and the introduction of first foods. The volunteers, all of whom are experienced mothers were trained by the UCL team and local health professionals to provide up to date advice and support. Researchers believe that this early intervention could actually help prevent obesity, asthma and many other illnesses in later life. Ms McCall, a mother of two young children has been actively involved in supporting the Department of Health Breastfeeding Awareness week.

312 Camden and Islington mothers with babies aged 3-4 months participated in the UCL study, which is funded by the Food Standards Agency. Half of them were visited every month by a volunteer and were given support and practical advice on breast-feeding and weaning until the baby was 1 year old. The other half received the usual advice from local health professionals. The early results indicate that mothers who received the support gained confidence and knowledge on the best ways of feeding their babies, and were better able to access local services available.

Dr Richard Watt, public health researcher at UCL said: "The event on the 7th December is about recognising the women from Camden and Islington who volunteered on the project. Our volunteers have done a great job visiting local mothers and they deserve recognition for all their hard work. We were really pleased to be working in Camden and Islington and have worked very closely with the local health and voluntary services.

The next stage in the research study is to assess the effects of the intervention on what the babies are fed when they are 12, and then 18 months old. If we can show a significant effect, projects like this should be developed across the country. New mothers often need advice and practical support on infant feeding. Health professionals are too busy to sit down and discuss these issues in detail. Trained volunteers can provide this valuable service."

Notes to editors:

  1. Diary Notice: Davina McCall presents certificates to volunteer mothers involved in UCL infant feeding study at The Garden Room, UCL Main Building, Gower Street, 7th December at 10am.

Further information:

For further information, interviews or photo opportunities, please contact Alex Brew, UCL Media Relations Manager, on 020 7679 9726 or email a.brew@ucl.ac.uk