Professor Mary Renfrew

Professor of Mother and Infant Health / Associate Dean Research


School of Nursing & Health Sciences
11 Airlie Place,

Phone Number:

+(44) 01382 388664

Email Address:


Mary Renfrew has recently been appointed as Professor of Mother and Infant Health at the University of Dundee, College of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing.  A graduate of the University of Edinburgh, Prof Renfrew is a health researcher with a clinical background in midwifery.  She has previously worked in the universities of York, Leeds, and Oxford, and in Alberta, Canada, for the MRC Reproductive Biology Unit in Edinburgh, and for the NHS in Edinburgh and Oxford.  She founded the Mother and Infant Research Unit - a multidisciplinary unit examining ways of improving the health and wellbeing of childbearing women, babies and families and tackling inequalities - and led it for 17 years until her move to Dundee.  Her research and implementation programmes have been supported by external funds of over £10 million, in fields including maternal and infant nutrition, care in pregnancy, birth and postpartum, neonatal care, the engagement of lay perspectives in research, and evidence-based policy and practice.  Her work has been funded by agencies including Research Councils, the National Institute for Health Research, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, the Department of Health, Quality Improvement Scotland, and UNICEF UK. She has co-authored or edited seven books and around 120 peer reviewed publications. She is currently principal investigator for a global collaboration to produce a Special Series for The Lancet on the contribution of midwifery to maternal and infant survival, health and wellbeing, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  She collaborates with lay, professional and academic colleagues nationally and internationally.

Prof Renfrew has been a member of two RAE panels; co-editor of the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group; member of editorial boards of journals including BioMed Central, Midwifery, Journal of Clinical Effectiveness in Nursing, and Maternal and Child Nutrition.  She has been Chair of the UK Breastfeeding Manifesto Steering Group, Chair of the Board of Best Beginnings, Chair of the WHO Maternal and Newborn Strategic Committee, and an inaugural Senior Investigator for the National Institute for Health Research. She is a member of the Research Strategy Committee for the International Confederation of Midwives and a Board member for UNICEF UK.

In her new post in Dundee, she is establishing a multidisciplinary programme of work on tackling inequalities in maternal and infant health and early years.



Maternal and infant nutrition

Midwifery organisation of maternity services addressing inequalities in health care in childbirth

Current funding

An Evaluation of the Scottish Women Held Maternity Record in NHS Scotland

Approaches to evaluating Healthy Start - a scoping review

Assessing the effectiveness of support for breastfeeding mothers: updating the Cochrane review

Breastfeeding promotion for infants in neonatal units: a systematic review and economic analysis

Cost analysis of breastfeeding outcomes in the UK

Emergency caesarean section: the short and long term impact on women

Food-support programmes for low-income and socially disadvantaged childbearing women in developed countries

Healthy Start: understanding the use of vouchers

How can breastfeeding support services best meet the needs of women of Bangladeshi origin in the UK?

Improving care at the primary/secondary interface: a trial of community-based support in early labour. The ELSA trial

Labouring to better effect: studies of services for women in early labour. The OPAL study (OPtions for Assessment in early Labour)

London Breastfeeding Services Mapping Project

Maternal and Child Nutrition Practice Development Coordinating Centre

Maternal and child nutrition programme guidance evidence reviews

NIHR Senior Investigator Award

Promotion of breastfeeding initiation and duration. Evidence into practice briefing

Public Health Research Consortium

The effectiveness of public health interventions to improve the nutrition of pregnant women



Can food vouchers improve nutrition and reduce health inequalities in low-income mothers and young children?: a multi-method evaluation of the experiences of beneficiaries and practitioners of the healthy start programme in England? McFadden, A., Green, J. M., Williams, V., McLeish, J., McCormick, F., Fox-Rushby, J. & Renfrew, M. J Feb 2014 In : BMC Public Health. 14, 148

Interventions for promoting the initiation of breastfeeding Dyson, L., McCormick, F. M. & Renfrew, M. J. 2014 132, 1, p. 68-68 1 p.


Factors associated with breastfeeding in England: an analysis by primary care trust Oakley, L. L., Renfrew, M. J., Kurinczuk, J. J. & Quigley, M. A. 11 Jun 2013 In : BMJ Open. 3, 6, 11 p.e002765

Does cultural context make a difference to women's experiences of maternity care?: a qualitative study comparing the perspectives of breast-feeding women of Bangladeshi origin and health practitioners. McFadden, A., Renfrew, M. J. & Atkin, K. 1 Dec 2013 In : Health Expectations. 16, 4, 12 p.

Maternal health post-2015Campbell, J., de Bernis, L., Downe, S., Fogstad, H., Homer, C., Kennedy, H. P., Matthews, Z., Renfrew, M. J. & ten Hoope-Bender, P. 18 May 2013 In : Lancet. 381, 9879, p. 1717-8 2 p.


Support for healthy breastfeeding mothers with healthy term babies Renfrew, M.  J., McCormick, F. M., Wade, A., Quinn, B. & Dowswell, T. 16 May 2012 In: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2012, 5, 206 p.CD001141

Using qualitative research findings to analyse how breastfeeding public health recommendations can be tailored to meet the needs of women of Bangladeshi origin living in England McFadden, A., Renfrew, M.  J. & Atkin, K. Mar 2012 In: Journal of Research in Nursing. 17, 2, p. 159-178 20 p.

Breastfeeding is associated with improved child cognitive development: a population-based cohort study Quigley, M. A., Hockley, C., Carson, C., Kelly, Y., Renfrew, M.  J. & Sacker, A. Jan 2012 In: Journal of Pediatrics. 160, 1, p. 25-32 8 p.

Best practice into common practice Renfrew, M.  2012 In: Practising Midwife. 15, 8, p. 46 1 p.

Breastfeeding and educational achievement at age 5 Heikkilä, K., Kelly, Y., Renfrew, M.  J., Sacker, A. & Quigley, M. A. 2012 In: Maternal and Child Nutrition. p. 1-10 10 p.

Does cultural context make a difference to women's experiences of maternity care?: a qualitative study comparing the perspectives of breast-feeding women of Bangladeshi origin and health practitioners McFadden, A., Renfrew, M. J. & Atkin, K. 2012 In: Health Expectations. n/a, 12 p.n/a

Gaps in the evidence for prevention and treatment of maternal anaemia: a review of systematic reviews Parker, J. A., Barroso, F., Stanworth, S. J., Spiby, H., Hopewell, S., Doree, C. J., Renfrew, M.  J. & Allard, S. 2012 In: BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. 12, p. 56

Mapping breastfeeding services: a method to inform effective implementation and evaluation of evidence-based policy in practice Dyson, L., McCormick, F., Entwistle, F., Duncan, H., Chaplin, S. & Renfrew, M.  J. 2012 In: Maternal and Child Nutrition. p. 1-14 14 p.


Men and infant feeding: perceptions of embarrassment, sexuality, and social conduct in white low-income British men Henderson, L., McMillan, B., Green, J. M. & Renfrew, M.  J. Mar 2011 In: Birth. 38, 1, p. 61-70 10 p.

Breast feeding and child behaviour in the Millennium Cohort Study Heikkilä, K., Sacker, A., Kelly, Y., Renfrew, M.  J. & Quigley, M. A. 2011 In: Archives of Disease in Childhood. 96, 7, p. 635-642 8 p.

Fetal and perinatal consequences of maternal obesity Vasudevan, C., Renfrew, M.  & McGuire, W. 2011 In: Archives of Disease in Childhood. Fetal and Neonatal edition. 96, 5, p. F378-82 5 p.


Breastfeeding promotion for infants in neonatal units: a systematic review Renfrew, M.  J., Dyson, L., McCormick, F., Misso, K., Stenhouse, E., King, S. E. & Williams, A. F. 2010 In: Child: Care, Health and Development. 36, 2, p. 165-78 14 p.

Economic evaluation of enhanced staff contact for the promotion of breastfeeding for low birth weight infants Rice, S. J. C., Craig, D., McCormick, F., Renfrew, M.  J. & Williams, A. F. 2010 In: International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care. 26, 2, p. 133-40 8 p.

Factors influencing the infant feeding decision for socioeconomically deprived pregnant teenagers: the moral dimension Dyson, L., Green, J. M., Renfrew, M.  J., McMillan, B. & Woolridge, M. 2010 In: Birth. 37, 2, p. 141-99 p.

Maternal obesity: consequences for children, challenges for clinicians and carers McGuire, W., Dyson, L. & Renfrew, M.  2010 In: Seminars in Fetal & Neonatal Medicine. 15, 2, p. 108-12 5 p.

Policy and public health recommendations to promote the initiation and duration of breast-feeding in developed country settings Dyson, L., Renfrew, M.  J., McFadden, A., McCormick, F., Herbert, G. & Thomas, J. 2010 In: Public Health Nutrition. 13, 1, p. 137-144 8 p.


A systematic review of education and evidence-based practice interventions with health professionals and breast feeding counsellors on duration of breast feeding Spiby, H., McCormick, F., Wallace, L., Renfrew, M.  J., D'Souza, L. & Dyson, L. 2009 In: Midwifery.25, 1, p. 50-61 12 p.

Breastfeeding promotion for infants in neonatal units: a systematic review and economic analysis Renfrew, M.  J., Craig, D., Dyson, L., McCormick, F., Rice, S., King, S. E., Misso, K., Stenhouse, E. & Williams, A. F. 2009 In : Health Technology Assessment. 13, 40, p. 1-146, iii-iv

Studying the infant feeding intentions of pregnant women experiencing material deprivation: methodology of the Looking at Infant Feeding Today (LIFT) study McMillan, B., Green, J. M., Woolridge, M. W., Dyson, L., Renfrew, M.  J. & Clarke, G. P. 2009 In: Social Science and Medicine. 68, 5, p. 845-9 5 p.


Using an extended theory of planned behaviour to inform interventions aimed at increasing breastfeeding uptake in primiparas experiencing material deprivation McMillan, B., Conner, M., Green, J., Dyson, L., Renfrew, M.  & Woolridge, M. 2009 In: British Journal of Health Psychology. 14, 2, p. 379-403 25 p.


Cleaning and sterilisation of infant feeding equipment: a systematic review Renfrew, M.  J., McLoughlin, M. & McFadden, A. Nov 2008 In: Public Health Nutrition. 11, 11, p. 1188-1199 12 p.

Predicting breastfeeding in women living in areas of economic hardship: Explanatory role of the theory of planned behaviour McMillan, B., Conner, M., Woolridge, M., Dyson, L., Green, J., Renfrew, M., Bharj, K. & Clarke, G.Oct 2008 In: Psychology and Health. 23, 7, p. 767-788 22 p.

Developing evidence-based recommendations in public health: Incorporating the views of practitioners, service users and user representatives Renfrew, M.  J., Dyson, L., Herbert, G., McFadden, A., McCormick, F., Thomas, J. & Spiby, H. Mar 2008 In: Health Expectations. 11, 1, p. 3-15 13 p.

Achieving the best from care in early labour Spiby, H. & Renfrew, M.  J. 2008 In: British Medical Journal. 337, p. a1165

Assessing levels of contaminants in breast milk: methodological issues and a framework for future research Renfrew, M.  J., Hay, A. M. W., Shelton, N., Law, G., Wallis, S., Madden, S., Shires, S., Sutcliffe, A. & Woolridge, M. W. 2008 In: Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology. 22, 1, p. 72-86 15 p.

Community-based maternity care in 2008 Renfrew, M.  J., Gerrard, J. & Baston, H. 2008 In: British Journal of General Practice. 58, 548, p. 149-51 3 p.

Countdown to 2015 for maternal, newborn, and child survival Savage, F., Renfrew, M.  J. & Bland, R. M. 2008 In: Lancet. 372, 9636, p. 369

Enabling women to breast feed Renfrew, M.  & Hall, D. 2008 In: British Medical Journal. 337, p. a1570

Methods of milk expression for lactating women Becker, G. E., McCormick, F. M. & Renfrew, M.  J. 2008 In: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 4, p. CD006170