Revealed: Breastfeeding babies improves their chance of climbing social ladder

 

Breastfeeding improves a child’s chance of climbing the social ladder and becoming a successful adult, according to a long-term study.

The analysis of more than 34,000 people born in the 1950s and 1970s found that those who had been breastfed as a baby were 24 per cent more likely to be upwardly mobile – and 20 per cent less likely to drop down the social ladder.

The health benefits of breastfeeding are well known, but the study is among the first to identify tangible benefits later in life.

Two groups of people – born in 1958 and in 1970 – were categorised by the job their father did when they were 10 or 11, and the job they themselves had when they were 33 or 34.

Social class was divided into four categories based on job type – from unskilled and semi-skilled manual work to professional or managerial work.

The authors of the study, published in the medical journal Archives of Disease in Childhood today, said that it provided evidence of long-term health, developmental and behavioural advantages to children, which crucially persist into adulthood. Breastfeeding enhances brain development, which boosts intellect, which in turn increases upward social mobility, they argued.

“There are few studies that look at the long-term outcomes of breastfeeding, but this study shows its long-lasting positive effect,” said Professor Amanda Sacker, one of the report’s authors and the director of the International Centre for Lifecourse Studies in Society and Health at University College London.

The NHS recommends breastfeeding to new mothers for the first six months of a baby’s life. Breast milk protects children from infections,  and breastfed babies are also less likely to become obese or develop eczema. The report’s authors said that breastfeeding also helped to generate a strong emotional bond between mother and baby.

“Perhaps the combination of physical contact and the most appropriate nutrients required for growth and brain development is implicated in  the better neurocognitive and adult outcomes of breastfed infants,”  they said.

Professor Sacker said that mothers who could not breastfeed could still aid their baby’s emotional and cognitive development with cuddling and close skin-to-skin contact with their baby while feeding. The study comes in the wake of figures that revealed the number of women breastfeeding their babies in England has dropped for the first time in a decade.

Numbers have been increasing in recent years, following a long-term decline associated with more women working and the increasing use of  baby formula.

The report’s authors found that while more than two-thirds of the 1958 children had been breastfed, that figure dropped to just one in three in 1970. Today, more than four out of five women start breastfeeding but less than half are still doing so at six weeks, according to Unicef UK.

Professor Sacker said that in the current economic climate more women were going back to work sooner, and therefore choosing not to breastfeed. She said that employers should offer new mothers more support at work, such as crèches at the office, where babies could be breastfed.

 

News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
booksJK Rowling to publish new story set in wizard's world for Halloween
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites those Star Wars rumours
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
people

Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

News
i100
News
peopleCampaign 'to help protect young people across the world'
Life and Style
tech

News
people'When I see people who look totally different, it brings me back to that time in my life'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Additional Learning Support Tutor: Employability

    £17662 - £21100 per annum: Randstad Education Sheffield: Additional Learning S...

    Senior Software Engineer - C#, VB.Net, ASP.Net - Kingston, Sur

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior Software Engineer - C#, VB.N...

    General Cover Teacher

    £120 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Luton: The Job:SECONDARY teachers need...

    Behaviour Support Work

    £60 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Behaviour Support WorkerThe JobTo...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker