Wednesday, February 21, 2007


This is a truly terrible piece of research. It relies on people's recollection of what happened 60 years ago. Given the frailties of memory at that distance, the answers are far more likely to depend on stereotypes rather than on what actually happened. And note that the recollections called for are not even what the person did 60 years ago. The respondents were asked what their MOTHERS did when they were babies! No wonder the authors took nearly 10 years to get such nonsense into print! It's breastfeeding propaganda, nothing more. All that the article actually shows is that people who have done well in life THINK that they were breastfed

The secret to popularity may be set in the way mums feed their babies. A 70-year study in Britain has found those who were breastfed are more likely to climb the social ladder than those who were bottle-fed. The results have been backed by the Australian Breastfeeding Association. Spokeswoman Karen Ingram said breast milk aided cognitive and motor development, which contributes to social skills. "We know through research that the attachment to a mother through breastfeeding can help children attach to others, which makes them more secure and independent," she said.

More than 3000 babies from England and Scotland were monitored from birth in 1937-39. The findings were based on 1414 adults who are still being examined. The study found those who were breastfed were 41 per cent more likely to move up the social ladder as adults than those who had been bottle-fed.

The prevalence of breastfeeding was not dependent on income, siblings, or social class at birth, allowing researchers to disregard other social factors that may have influenced results. The authors suggest breastfeeding influences brain development, which then leads to better exam results and job prospects and greater income.


Journal abstract follows:

Breastfeeding in infancy and social mobility: 60 year follow-up of the Boyd Orr cohort

By Richard Michael Martin et al.

Objective: To assess the association of having been breastfed with social class mobility between childhood and adulthood.

Design: Historical cohort study with 60 year follow up from childhood into adulthood.

Setting: 16 urban and rural centres in England and Scotland.

Participants: 3182 original participants in the Boyd Orr Survey of Diet and Health in Pre-War Britain (1937-39) were sent follow-up questionnaires between 1997-1998. Analyses are based on 1414 (44%) responders with data on breastfeeding measured in childhood and occupational social class in both childhood and adulthood.

Main outcome: Odds of moving from a lower to a higher social class between childhood and adulthood in those who were ever breastfed versus those who were bottle-fed.

Results: The prevalence of breastfeeding varied by survey district (range: 45% to 86%) but not with household income (p = 0.7), expenditure on food (p=0.3), number of siblings (p = 0.7), birthorder (p = 0.5) or social class (p = 0.4) in childhood. Participants who had been breastfed were 41% (95% CI: 10% to 82%) more likely to move up a social class in adulthood (p=0.007) than bottle-fed infants. Longer breastfeeding duration was associated with greater odds of upward social mobility in fully adjusted models (p for trend = 0.003). Additionally controlling for survey district, household income and food expenditure in childhood, childhood height, birth order or number of siblings did not attenuate these associations. In an analysis comparing social mobility amongst children within families with discordant breastfeeding histories, the association was somewhat attenuated (odds ratio: 1.16; 95% CI: 0.74 to 1.80).

Conclusions: Breastfeeding was associated with upward social mobility. Confounding by other measured childhood predictors of social class in adulthood did not explain this effect, but we cannot exclude the possibility of residual or unmeasured confounding.

Breastfeeding has negligible effect on babies' IQ

It is one of the most hotly debated topics in pregnancy and early motherhood. Does breastfeeding really boost a baby's intelligence? Now the largest scientific study yet carried out has settled the issue. Breastfed babies are indeed smarter - because their mothers are. Mothers who breastfeed tend to be more intelligent, more highly educated and to provide more stimulation at home. The higher IQ of their babies is therefore mostly inherited, accounting for 75 per cent of the difference between them and bottle-fed babies, the researchers found.

The rest of the difference is down to the environment in which they are raised. Breastfed babies have mothers who are older and better educated, and live in nicer homes where they get more attention. When all these factors were taken into account, breastfeeding made less than half a point's difference in the intelligence scores - laying to rest a myth that has held sway for almost 80 years.

Geoff Der, a statistician from the Medical Research Council's social and public health sciences unit at the University of Edinburgh, said: "This question has been debated ever since a link between the two was first discovered in 1929. We found 73 articles which dealt with the link." He added: "Breastfed children do tend to score higher on intelligence tests, but they also tend to come from more advantaged backgrounds."

The study, published online by the British Medical Journal today, is based on US data on the breastfeeding history and IQs of 5,000 children and 3,000 mothers, which was not available in the UK. Mr Der concluded: "There is no reason why the same findings would not apply here."

The researchers also looked at families where one child was breastfed and the other wasn't. This confirmed the findings that breastfeeding made no difference to IQ. Mr Der said: "Intelligence is determined by factors other than breastfeeding. But breastfeeding has many benefits for both mother and child. It is definitely the smart thing to do."

In England and Wales, 77 per cent of babies are breastfed but more than a third of mothers stop within the first six weeks. Nine out of 10 mothers in the professional and managerial class start breastfeeding, compared with just over six out of 10 among manual workers.

Breastfeeding boosts the baby's immune system and protects against infections, and reduces the risk of asthma and eczema in childhood. It also reduces the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity in adulthood.

But Rosie Dodds, policy researcher at the National Childbirth Trust, said evidence from parts of the world where breastfeeding is more common among poorer women cast doubt on the claim that it had no link with intelligence. In the Philippines, where bottle feeding is a sign of status preferred by working mothers, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2005 found that babies who were breastfed had higher intelligence, despite their more deprived backgrounds.

Ms Dodds said: "We cannot rule out an influence of breastfeeding on intelligence especially in babies born prematurely who may have missed out on what their biological growth would have been. Breastfeeding is more likely to provide the nutrients they need to grow and develop." Another study of 14,600 babies, half of whom were breastfed, conducted by University College hospital, London, and published in the US journal Pediatrics this year, found there were more developmental delays among the children who were bottle fed.



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

Trans fats:

For one summary of the weak science behind the "trans-fat" hysteria, see here. Trans fats have only a temporary effect on blood chemistry and the evidence of lasting harm from them is dubious. By taking extreme groups in trans fats intake, some weak association with coronary heart disease has at times been shown in some sub-populations but extreme group studies are inherently at risk of confounding with other factors and are intrinsically of little interest to the average person.