The effects of breastfeeding on children, mothers and employers

Lead Research Organisation: University of Essex
Department Name: Inst for Social and Economic Research

Abstract

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Description Our research confirms the existence of significant positive effects of breastfeeding on children's cognitive development in early childhood and on educational achievements up to their teenage years. Importantly, the finding of a positive causal effect of breastfeeding on cognitive development is confirmed across three separate analyses using different definitions of breastfeeding, different methods and based on different data sets available for different time-periods. Borras, Iacovou and Sevilla-Sanz (Labour Economics, 2012) compare school test scores of breastfed and non-breastfed children in ALSPAC. After matching mother-child pairs on a wide range of observable variables, they show that breastfeeding affects children's test scores well into adolescence (age 7, 11 and 14 SATs). Del Bono and Rabe (ISER Working Paper, 2012-29) exploit variation in hospital participation in breastfeeding support policies (UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative) and find that breastfeeding has a large and significant causal impact on the cognitive achievement of the MCS children at age 3, 5 and 7. Iacovou and Sevilla-Sanz (European Journal of Public Health, 2012) find that schedule-feeding is associated with higher levels of maternal wellbeing, but with lower levels of later educational attainment, in a range of subject areas, at ages between 5 and 14. Other work emphasizes the benefits of breastfeeding to mothers and to employers. Borra, Iacovou and Sevilla-Sanz (Unpublished manuscript, 2012) explore causality in the relationships between breastfeeding and post-natal depression and find that this relationship is not robust to controlling for antenatal maternal mental and physical health. The study by Emilia Del Bono and Chiara Pronzato (ISER Working Paper 2012-06) shows for the first time that the availability of breastfeeding facilities at the work place reduces maternity leave spells of highly, but not low, educated mothers.
Exploitation Route The project has influenced economists interested in child development, in particular family and education economists. It has also had an effect on labour economists interested in worker retention issues as well as personnel and human resource experts. Our work has also been influential in the community of epidemiologists, in particular those interested in infant feeding and child development. For example, we have had positive feedback from Professor Yvonne Kelly and Professor Amanda Sacker as well as their wider research network at University College London. The findings of our research have demonstrated the importance of collecting more data about breastfeeding and about breastfeeding support policies. Three important initiatives are to be mentioned here. First, the team responsible for the UK Millennium Cohort Study is considering merging their data with hospital-level information derived from the National Sentinel Caesarean Section Audit. Secondly, the team responsible for the new Birth Cohort Study (Life Study) now intends to co-ordinate with the UNICEF-UK BFI programme in order to collect information on hospital and community-level breastfeeding support policies. Thirdly, new questions on infant feeding practices, including whether the infant is fed on demand or to a schedule, have been proposed in the breastfeeding module of the new Birth Cohort Study (Life Study) and are under consideration.
Sectors Education,Healthcare

 
Description In highlighting the positive effects of breastfeeding on both cognitive and non-cognitive aspects of early child development, and in showing that policies in support of breastfeeding have larger effects on more disadvantaged mothers, our research has stressed the importance of breastfeeding as a channel through which social mobility can be increased. Policy makers, such as Dr Poulter have taken on board this message and asked for support of breastfeeding policies in the local communities. By examining in great detail the effects of the UNICEF-UK Breastfeeding Friendly Initiative we have shown that hospital-level initiatives can have a strong impact on breastfeeding rates. This message was welcomed by the over 800 midwives and health professionals attending the Annual Meeting of the UNICEF_UK BFI. Moreover, it encouraged the UNICEF-UK BFI programme to continue its efforts to support breastfeeding at the hospital and at the community level .
Sector Education,Healthcare
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Breastfeeding and cognitive development 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Presentation of two different papers.



In the first paper the authors use compare school test scores of breastfed and non-breastfed children in ALSPAC. After matching mother-child pairs on a wide range of observable variables, they show that breastfeeding affects children's test scores well into adolescence (age 7, 11 and 14 SATs).



The second paper asks the question of whether the mode of feeding (schedule vs. demand) affects maternal and child outcomes. Using ALSPAC data and applying OLS, logit and PSM methods, the authors find that feeding infants to a schedule is associated with higher levels of maternal well-being, but poorer cognitive and educational outcomes for children.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity
 
Description Breastfeeding and cognitive development 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Presentation of two different papers.



In the first paper the authors use compare school test scores of breastfed and non-breastfed children in ALSPAC. After matching mother-child pairs on a wide range of observable variables, they show that breastfeeding affects children's test scores well into adolescence (age 7, 11 and 14 SATs).



The second paper asks the question of whether the mode of feeding (schedule vs. demand) affects maternal and child outcomes. Using ALSPAC data and applying OLS, logit and PSM methods, the authors find that feeding infants to a schedule is associated with higher levels of maternal well-being, but poorer cognitive and educational outcomes for children.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity
 
Description Does the baby friendly initiative work in the UK? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Keynote lecture at the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative Annual Meeting (invited)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Estimating the causal effects of breastfeeding on early child outcomes 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Using data from the Millennium Cohort Study, this paper sets to identify the effect of maternal breastfeeding on early child outcomes implementing an Instrumental Variable approach. We exploit variation in breastfeeding rates and intensity brought about by certain hospitals' participation in the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI)

program. The BFI grants accreditation to maternity units which have implemented best practices for breastfeeding and successfully undergone an external assessment. After controlling for a wide range of hospital-level variables, we find that women who give birth in hospitals which have a BFI certificate of commitment or a full award are more likely to initiate breastfeeding and more likely to breastfeed exclusively at 4 weeks.The second-stage results indicate that breastfeeding has positive effects on some health outcomes, no significant effects on non-cognitive development,while it improves cognitive outcomes at 5 and 7 years.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity
 
Description Estimating the causal effects of breastfeeding on early child outcomes 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Using data from the Millennium Cohort Study, this paper sets to identify the effect of maternal breastfeeding on early child outcomes implementing an Instrumental Variable approach. We exploit variation in breastfeeding rates and intensity brought about by certain hospitals' participation in the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI)

program. The BFI grants accreditation to maternity units which have implemented best practices for breastfeeding and successfully undergone an external assessment. After controlling for a wide range of hospital-level variables, we find that women who give birth in hospitals which have a BFI certificate of commitment or a full award are more likely to initiate breastfeeding and more likely to breastfeed exclusively at 4 weeks.The second-stage

results indicate that breastfeeding has positive effects on some health outcomes, no significant effects on non-cognitive development,while it improves cognitive outcomes at 5 and 7 years.

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Estimating the causal effects of breastfeeding on early child outcomes 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Using data from the Millennium Cohort Study, this paper sets to identify the effect of maternal breastfeeding on early child outcomes implementing an Instrumental Variable approach. We exploit variation in breastfeeding rates and intensity brought about by certain hospitals' participation in the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI)

program. The BFI grants accreditation to maternity units which have implemented best practices for breastfeeding and successfully undergone an external assessment. After controlling for a wide range of hospital-level variables, we find that women who give birth in hospitals which have a BFI certificate of commitment or a full award are more likely to initiate breastfeeding and more likely to breastfeed exclusively at 4 weeks.The second-stage results indicate that breastfeeding has positive effects on some health outcomes, no significant effects on non-cognitive development,while it improves cognitive outcomes at 5 and 7 years.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity
 
Description Schedule versus on demand feeding : outcomes for mothers and for children 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact This paper asks the question of whether the mode of feeding (schedule vs. demand) affects maternal and child outcomes. Using ALSPAC data and applying OLS, logit and PSM methods, the authors find that feeding infants to a schedule is associated with higher levels of maternal well-being, but poorer cognitive and educational outcomes for children.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity
 
Description Schedule versus on demand feeding : outcomes for mothers and for children 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact This paper asks the question of whether the mode of feeding (schedule vs. demand) affects maternal and child outcomes. Using ALSPAC data and applying OLS, logit and PSM methods, the authors find that feeding infants to a schedule is associated with higher levels of maternal well-being, but poorer cognitive and educational outcomes for children.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity
 
Description Schedule versus on-demand feeding : outcomes for mothers and children 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact This paper asks the question of whether the mode of feeding (schedule vs. demand) affects maternal and child outcomes. Using ALSPAC data and applying OLS, logit and PSM methods, the authors find that feeding infants to a schedule is associated with higher levels of maternal well-being, but poorer cognitive and educational outcomes for children.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity
 
Description The effect of breastfeeding on health and cognitive and non-cognitive skills 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Using data from the Millennium Cohort Study, this paper sets to identify the effect of maternal breastfeeding on early child outcomes implementing an Instrumental Variable approach. We exploit variation in breastfeeding rates and intensity brought about by certain hospitals' participation in the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI)program. The BFI grants accreditation to maternity units which have implemented best practices for breastfeeding and successfully undergone an external assessment. After controlling for a wide range of hospital-level variables, we find that women who give birth in hospitals which have a BFI certificate of commitment or a full award are more likely to initiate breastfeeding and more likely to breastfeed exclusively at 4 weeks. The second stage results indicate that breastfeeding has positive effects on health outcomes throughout early childhood. In particular, it reduces the incidence of severe vomiting and diarrhoea at 9 months and causes fewer asthma and wheezing problems at 5 years. The non-cognitive effects seem to be mainly concentrated in the first few months, with positive impacts on some aspects of the Carey Infant Temperament Scale at 9 months. By contrast, we find some significant effects of breastfeeding in the cognitive domain only in later years, as our results indicate a positive effect of breastfeeding on the BAS ability scale modules at 5 years.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity
 
Description The effects of breastfeeding on early child development 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Using data from the Millennium Cohort Study, this paper sets to identify the effect of maternal breastfeeding on early child outcomes implementing an Instrumental Variable approach. We exploit variation in breastfeeding rates and intensity brought about by certain hospitals' participation in the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI)

program. The BFI grants accreditation to maternity units which have implemented best practices for breastfeeding and successfully undergone an external assessment. After controlling for a wide range of hospital-level variables, we find that women who give birth in hospitals which have a BFI certificate of commitment or a full award are more likely to initiate breastfeeding and more likely to breastfeed exclusively at 4 weeks.The second-stage

results indicate that breastfeeding has positive effects on some health outcomes, no significant effects on non-cognitive development, while it improves cognitive outcomes at 5 and 7 years.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity