Pregnant mums should take vitamin D during pregnancy and ensure they up their intake of iron, calcium and folates. This is the message from the Scottish government, which says it wants to focus on more than just breastfeeding in relation to baby nutrition.
Health minister Shona Robison said: “What we’re doing is putting breastfeeding in a wider context.
“We recognise that there’s a lot more that we can be doing and that healthcare staff can be doing to advise women before conception.
“After conception there are things they can do about their own nutrition which can really benefit their newborn child.”
Many women of childbearing age in Scotland are known to be deficient in key nutrients including iron, calcium, folate and vitamin D.
Ms Robison added: “Because we live in Scotland where we don’t have an awful lot of sunlight, unfortunately, the evidence is that vitamin D supplements are very, very important.”
The new approach by the Scottish government coincides with evidence published in the British Medical Journal that questions current guidelines about six months of exclusive breast-feeding. The World Health Organisation advises parents to feed their babies exclusively on breast milk, if possible, for at least six months before starting to wean, but the BMJ report questions this, and scientists say early weaning may actualy aid breastfeeding.