Breastfeeding Benefits Are Long Lasting

Good news for breastfeeding babies! A new study states that breastfed babies have an easier time climbing social ladders than their peers that aren't.

Breastfeeding mom and baby

As if you needed another reason to breastfeed your baby, a new study has discovered that your baby may be more apt to improve his social status if he is breastfed. The study also found that the baby’s chances of downward mobility were lessened.

The breastfeeding effect

The researchers studied two large groups of people -- the first group was born in 1958, and the second group was born in 1970. The moms were asked about their breastfeeding habits, and the researchers then compared the children’s social class with their social class when they were grown up (at age 33 or 34).

The study also took into account a number of other potentially influential factors via follow ups every few years, such as brain development and stress scores.

It was also noted that breastfeeding rates were much lower in 1970 than they were in 1958, but when the data was accounted for, it was found that children in both groups who were breastfed were more likely to have climbed the social ladder than kids who were never breastfed. Overall, it was found that the odds of upwards mobility increased by 24 percent and the odds of downward mobility was reduced by 20 percent for both groups.

Reduced stress and enhanced brain development

Breastfeeding helps enhance brain development, which in turn boosts intellect, and that can help social mobility. Breastfed kids also showed fewer signs of stress. Researchers weren’t able to totally pinpoint the reason for these benefits -- is it the breast milk itself, or the skin-to-skin contact with their mother?

Authors suggest it’s perhaps both. "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.

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Tags: breastfeeding benefits

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