Breastfed children are more socially mobile than their bottle-fed counterparts, new research has suggested.
Children reared on breast milk are more likely to have a higher social class than their fathers by the time they reach their mid-30s, according to a new study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.
Researchers looked at data from 17,419 children born in 1958 and 16,771 children born in 1970, and compared their social class as children and as adults.
Social class was broken down into a four-point scale running from unskilled/semi-skilled manual to professional/managerial.
More than two-thirds (68%) of mothers breastfed their children in 1958, compared with just over one in three (36%) in 1970.
Breastfeeding increased the chances of upwards social mobility by nearly a quarter (24%) and slashed the risk of downward social mobility by around 20%, the authors found.
"The results show that breast feeding was consistently associated with an increased chance of upward social mobility and a decreased chance of downward mobility," the study's authors said.
However, it was "difficult to disentangle" whether the breastfeeding effect was due to the nutrients found in breast milk or increased physical contact between mothers and their babies, researchers said.
"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," the authors concluded.
Copyright Press Association 2013