Disadvantaged mothers should breastfeed their children ‘to improve social mobility’, experts claim

on Oct 10, 2011 in National News, News, News from Around the World

Breastfed babies are smarter and have a reduced chance of behavioural problems in later life, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Essex’s Institute of Social & Economic Research (ISER) and the University of Oxford have spent the past two years looking at the impact of breastfeeding on a child’s development.

They found that it can improve a child’s social mobility by boosting its IQ in later life, and reduces the likelihood of a child having behavioural difficulties at age five.

Six per cent of full-term babies breastfed for four months have these issues compared with 16 per cent of formula fed babies, the research shows.

The group is now now urging the government to act on its findings and include the importance of breastfeeding in its plan for improving social mobility.

However,a report produced by the team fails to identify exactly how and why breastfeeding in a baby’s early weeks leads to success in later life.

The document, which will be discussed at a conference at the British Academy in central London on Wednesday says: ‘Aligning breastfeeding with social mobility may seem tenuous, but a body of research shows that an individual’s behavioural and psycho-social outcomes have a significant impact on adult earnings and education,’ as reported in The Observer.

 
Priority: Experts say the government should target disadvantaged mothers and encourage them to breastfeed Priority: Experts say the government should target disadvantaged mothers and encourage them to breastfeed

The report goes on: ‘If research can demonstrate the extent to which positive outcomes are the result of breastfeeding, rather than from social factors, then there is a strong case for encouraging breastfeeding from an early intervention policy that can improve a child’s life chances, particularly targeting young and disadvantaged mothers.’

 

 

 

Health experts have said there is a large social gap in breastfeeding rates with more privileged mothers opting to breastfeed compared with the more disadvantaged, according to the policy document.

Dr Emilia Del Bono, an economist at the ISER told The Observer: ‘We need initiatives to support mothers not just to start breastfeeding, but to continue beyond the early days.

‘We know very little about the effects of breastfeeding at longer durations because so few women breastfeed for more than a few weeks.

‘It’s only when more women start breastfeeding for longer periods that we will have the data necessary to investigate.’

In the same report, a senior Liberal Democrat source said: ‘We expect the social mobility and child poverty commission to report on the progress of the indicators and to tell us whether they are the right ones.

‘The current list is a good start but it does not have to be the final word’.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2047016/Disadvantaged-mothers-breastfeed-children-improve-social-mobility-experts-claim.html#ixzz1aLyTx0Eo

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