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Effects of breastfeeding examined in new study

Fri April 3rd, 2009

A major new study is under way in Britain to investigate the true effects of breastfeeding.

Funding of 240,000 UK pounds has been secured for the project, which will be run by a team of researchers from the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex, UK.

The study is based on two databases involving about 15,000 children each: the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) and the Avon Longitudinal Survey of Parents and Children (ALSPAC).

Researchers taking part say it will be "the most comprehensive and one of the most ambitious pieces of research ever undertaken into the effects of breastfeeding". It will use a range of economic and statistical techniques to "disentangle the true effect of breastfeeding from other spurious associations".

Areas of investigation include the effects of breastfeeding of the child's early development including early literacy and numeracy skills at Key Stages 1 and 2, social development including rates of hyperactivity and peer problems, and effects on mothers and employers.

Lead researcher, Dr Emilia Del Bono, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity to take a fresh look at breastfeeding and to expand the range of questions being asked about its effects.

"We believe this study will make a significant contribution to the research already undertaken in this area and that it will be of considerable interest to a wide range of professionals and policy makers as well as employers and the general public."

The researchers point out that current World Health Organisation recommendations suggest exclusive breastfeeding for six months, and the continuation of breastfeeding alongside solid foods for two years. Nevertheless, breastfeeding rates are still low in many developed countries.

Tags: UK News | Childbirth and Pregnancy | Infancy to Adolescence | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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