We have long known that breastfeeding carries health benefits for both mother and baby, but a new study reveals that it may also increase a child’s chance of moving up the social ladder.
According to a recent TIME story, researchers compared two large cohorts of British babies born in 1958 and 1970. For both cohorts, the researchers discovered that breastfeeding “increased the odds of upward mobility. . . by 24% and lowered the likelihood for downward social mobility by 20%.” The researchers also found that those children who had been breastfeed “were less likely to experience emotional stress and better able to cope with anxiety if they did.” The researchers “acknowledge that their study could not tease apart whether this advantage resulted from the breast milk and its known nutrients and immune-system components, or from the intimate contact between mother and child that breastfeeding requires.”
The story concludes by commenting that this study is likely to provoke more debate on breastfeeding policy, as women in the workplace find it difficult if not impossible to give their children the six months of exclusive and two years of partial breastfeeding that the World Health Organization recommends.