Public Health England (PHE) has launched a new service delivering approved breastfeeding advice via Amazon’s Alexa.

Through Start4Life’s ‘Breastfeeding Friend’, users can ask the cloud-based platform a variety of questions about breastfeeding and receive answers tailored to the age of the baby.

According to PHE, the service is the first time parents have been able to receive NHS-approved breastfeeding advice via a hands-free digital platform.

Breastfeeding Friend is built for Amazon’s full range of Alexa devices including the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot or Echo Plus.

It is also available via the Facebook Messenger chatbot.

Viv Bennett, chief nurse at Public Health England said: “Breastfeeding is something that mothers and babies learn together, and, whilst learning, women may have questions or setbacks.

“Good support from healthcare professionals is vital, but cannot be available 24/7.

“We know that online search for breastfeeding support peaks between 2am and 6am when help in-person is not available.

“Using this data and surveys of what families want, the Breastfeeding Friend from Start4Life has been designed to help. This tool, together with the range of support materials from Start4Life, illustrates how PHE is responding to the needs of mothers.

“Using technology and keeping pace with developments can support both parents and healthcare professionals in ensuring evidence-based advice and support is accessible when needed.”

“We’re excited to work with Public Health England on bringing an important service for mothers to Alexa,” added Fabrice Rousseau, Director, Alexa Skills EU.

“Voice makes it easy to get information on-demand, and the Breastfeeding Friend skill will provide mothers with a quick and convenient way to get the advice they need, at any time of day, just by asking.”

The healthcare potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and voice technology was discussed at the Giant Health Event in London in November 2017.

Speakers included Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable and Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) worldwide public sector lead Wayne Philips, who discussed how the such technologies can improve healthcare.