ALMOST half of new mothers in Dorset stop breastfeeding as early as two months old, figures show.

Figures released by Public Health England (PHE) show that between January and March 2018, GPs in Dorset asked 642 mothers at their six-to-eight week checkup how they were feeding their babies.

The figures show that 292 mothers (45 per cent) said they were not breastfeeding at all.

NHS guidelines recommend that babies are exclusively breastfed for up to six months at least, adding that breastfeeding reduces a baby’s risk of infection, sudden infant death syndrome, childhood leukaemia and even heart disease in adulthood.

Breastfeeding also has numerous health benefits for mothers, including lowering the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis.

Currently, around 36.4 per cent of babies in Dorset were fed exclusively with breast milk, and 9.26 per cent were partially breastfed.

This compares to the national average across England which showed that 28 per cent of babies aged six to eight weeks are exclusively breastfed.

The release of the figures coincides with the launch of the 24/7 Breastfeeding Friend on Google Assistant to support mums in the South West.

The 24/7 Breastfeeding Friend from Public Health England’s programme Start4Life will be available on Google Assistant to provide helpful advice for parents in South West during the first few weeks of breastfeeding.

Rosanne Sodzi, health & wellbeing programme manager at Public Health England South West, added: “We know that breastfeeding is an area that many mothers need support with and we know that this can be particularly difficult out of hours (for example in the middle of the night when other support services aren’t around) this is when the chatbot is really useful.

“The ‘Start4Life Breastfeeding Friend is available via Amazon Alexa’s voice search’ and on Google Assistant, is a great tool for mums in South West who are looking for help and advice about breastfeeding.”

However, Dr Mary Fewtrell, nutrition lead at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said that it was not just parents that needed education and support.

She added: “Adding things to the national curriculum is tricky, but it would be good to normalise the idea of humans feeding their babies like other mammals do.”

“That could be introduced to children very early on.

“Throughout the education system, breastfeeding should be discussed and normalised.”

To find out more about the new Breastfeeding Friend,