Informing the 'early years' agenda in Scotland: understanding infant feeding patterns using linked datasets

Omotomilola Ajetunmobi, Bruce Whyte, James Chalmers, Michael Fleming, Diane Stockton, Rachael Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Providing infants with the 'best possible start in life' is a priority for the Scottish Government. This is reflected in policy and health promotion strategies to increase breast feeding, which gives the best source of nutrients for healthy infant growth and development. However, the rate of breast feeding in Scotland remains one of the lowest in Europe. Information is needed to provide a better understanding of infant feeding and its impact on child health. This paper describes the development of a unique population-wide resource created to explore infant feeding and child health in Scotland.

METHODS: Descriptive and multivariate analyses of linked routine/administrative maternal and infant health records for 731,595 infants born in Scotland between 1997 and 2009.

RESULTS: A linked dataset was created containing a wide range of background, parental, maternal, birth and health service characteristics for a representative sample of infants born in Scotland over the study period. There was high coverage and completeness of infant feeding and other demographic, maternal and infant records. The results confirmed the importance of an enabling environment--cultural, family, health service and other maternal and infant health-related factors--in increasing the likelihood to breast feed.

CONCLUSIONS: Using the linked dataset, it was possible to investigate the determinants of breast feeding for a representative sample of Scottish infants born between 1997 and 2009. The linked dataset is an important resource that has potential uses in research, policy design and targeting intervention programmes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-92
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Epidemiology & Community Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • Adult
  • Birth Certificates
  • Breast Feeding
  • Delivery, Obstetric
  • Female
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Welfare
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Maternal Age
  • Medical Record Linkage
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Scotland
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


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