The benefits of breastfeeding babies have long been touted, but a new study has revealed that breastfed babies could go on to earn more as adults.
A 2018 study, of 9,000 people and led by Queen’s University Belfast, found that those participants who were breastfed as babies had a 10% higher household income when they were over 50.
Researchers analysed data from the 1958 national child development study, which tracked the participants since birth.
They found that at the age of 50, those who were breastfed in infancy had an average weekly household income of £708 (AU$1319), compared to £588 (AU$1096) for those who were formula fed.
The income of breastfed babies was calculated to be around 20% higher, but when the results were adjusted to take socio-economic background into account, the increase dropped to 10%.
Scientists said breastfeeding provides nutrients required for “rapid brain development” that are not provided in formula milk.
Now the study authors believe investing in public campaigns to help increase breastfeeding rates could offer long-term benefits to the overall economy thanks to increased earnings.
“Our concluding results so far in the study show if more babies are breastfed there are likely to be substantial economic returns to the resources invested in these public health campaigns, and women and children could also benefit through improvements in health, cognitive ability, and greater earnings potential,” study leader Dr Mark McGovern told Daily Mail.
It is often recommended that mothers breastfeed their babies during the first six months as this feeding method has long-term benefits for the baby that last right into adulthood.
In the UK almost three-quarters of women start breastfeeding when their child is born but by six to eight weeks this drops to just 44 percent.
However, despite the push for breastfeeding health organisations have recognised that for some mothers this comes as a struggle or may not be possible at all.
Essentially, experts advise that women be a the centre of their own care and guide midwives and maternity support workers to simply promote an informed choice whether it be breastfeeding or formula feeding.