A recent study shows a significant link between breast feeding and intergenerational social mobility.
Breast feeding increases the odds of upward social mobility and decreases the odds of downward mobility were the final results published last month in Archives of Disease in Childhood.
This study from University College London (UCL) adds even more evidence to the existing mound of the benefits of breast feeding. The knowledge that breast feeding imparts a number of health and cognitive benefits on developing children is not new.
What is new is proof these cognitive and non-cognitive advantages of breastfeeding make upward social mobility more likely.
Breast feeding is already known to protect children against infections and to promote physical development, and there is some evidence linking breast feeding with temperament, self-regulation and a lower risk of adjustment problems.
What makes these results so intriguing is it’s the first large-scale study to find that the benefits of breastfeeding extend beyond infancy and childhood into adulthood—lifelong social benefits!
Breastfeeding not only increased the chance of upwards mobility by 24%, it reduced the risk of downward mobility by 20%. These are astonishing numbers!
Breastfeeding increased upwards social mobility because it improves brain development and intellect as well as reduces the prospect of being overwhelmed by stress, the study revealed.
What the study does not address and, so, is still uncertain is whether it is the nutrients in breast milk or the bonding during breastfeeding which contributes to the benefit of the child.
The authors of the study propose that a “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.”
Indicators of neurological development (cognitive test scores) and stress (emotional stress scores) accounted for approximately 36% of the relationship between breast feeding and social mobility.
The researchers based their findings on changes in social class among 17,419 people born in 1958 and 16,771 born in 1970. Not surprisingly, both groups of people in the study experienced extremely similar outcomes.
Hopefully, more women will be encouraged to breastfeed knowing that the UCL researchers found breastfeeding can have significant impacts on cognitive development and improvements in social status.
Every parent wants a better life for their children. We instinctively wish for our kids to achieve and have more happiness and fewer worries. Breastfeeding our babies is important for their development.
If more expectant mothers were aware that breastfeeding their newborn can lower the chances of downwards mobility, maybe they would more inclined to accept the discomforts involved like soreness and irritation.
Please forward or share this blog with anyone who you know that is pregnant. Help Gainesville’s All About Women spread awareness that some of the benefits of breast feeding may be lifelong social benefits.
Keep in mind though that there are instances where breastfeeding isn’t a good idea. To learn more about these instances, check out our latest knowledge center article “When Breast Isn’t Best – When Should a Mother Not Breastfeed?” today.