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Breast-fed infants ‘more socially mobile’

AFP-JIJI

People breast-fed as infants have a 24 percent better chance than their formula-fed counterparts of climbing the social ladder, a study said Tuesday.

Conversely, being fed mother’s milk as a baby also reduced one’s chances of social demotion later in life by as much as 20 percent, the findings, published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, showed.

The researchers looked at data on 17,419 people born in Britain in 1958 and another 16,771 born in 1970 — comparing their social class at the age of 10 or 11 to that aged 33 or 34, and whether or not they had been breast-fed. In the 1958 group, 68 percent had been breast-fed compared with only 36 percent in the 1970 group, said the study.

The researchers gathered data every few years and took into account a range of other potential factors such as brain development and emotional stress levels.

“Intellect and stress accounted for around a third (36%) of the total impact of breast-feeding: breast-feeding enhances brain development, which boosts intellect, which in turn increases upwards social mobility. Breast-fed children also showed fewer signs of stress,” they said.