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On another board I got into a discussion about the recently altered pro-breastfeeding ads. The discussion turned in the direction of the science that supports that breastfeeding is best (which I definitely do believe). But then the discussion raised questions about whether some of the benefits of breastfeeding found in domestic studies might in fact be due to class privilege as opposed to just breastmilk itself. Since women who are still breastfeeding at 6 months+ tend to be more affluent and better educated than the wider pool who is formula feeding, couldn't the benefits attributed to breastmilk actually be due to being born into a privileged environment, or, at least, to both influences?<br><br>
CDC study regarding socioeconomics and BFing:<br><br><a href="http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5512a3.htm" target="_blank">http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5512a3.htm</a><br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">The results indicated that 71.5% of white and 50.1% of black children (Table 1) were ever breastfed. Breastfeeding rates were lower among black than white children within every subgroup studied and significantly lower (p<0.05) in all subgroups except children ineligible for WIC,* children residing in the Northeast,�* and children born to mothers aged <20 years. The greatest percentage point difference between races was among children in rural areas, whereas the smallest percentage point differences were among children ineligible for WIC, children residing in the Northeast, and children born to married mothers. Among both races, children were more likely to have ever been breastfed if they were ineligible for WIC; had mothers who were aged >20 years, married or had at least some college education; lived in the West or in urban areas; or were above the federal poverty threshold.<br><br>
Among children ever breastfed, 53.9% of whites and 43.2% of blacks were still breastfed at age 6 months (Table 2). A significantly smaller proportion of black than white children continued breastfeeding to at least 6 months among both sexes; children first born or not; children ineligible for WIC; children born to mothers aged <20 years or >30 years, or to mothers who had attended college; children living in urban areas, the Midwest, South, and West; and children whose household incomes ranged from 185% to <350% of the poverty level. Among children of both races, older maternal age, higher maternal education, mother being married, and living in the Northeast were positively associated with continuing to breastfeed at 6 months. Among white children, breastfeeding continuation at 6 months was also positively associated with being female, being first born, not participating in WIC, and higher poverty-to-income ratio.</td>
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MDC would seem to support this too; every poll I've seen here about race, household income, and education shows that this board is mostly white, middle class, and highly educated. I can't find the largest poll about race (maybe it was deleted) but according to this one:<br><br><a href="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/showthread.php?t=666733" target="_blank">http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=666733</a><br><br>
MDC is 95% caucasion or part caucasion.<br><br>
According to this poll 90% have a college or associates degree of some kind:<br><br><a href="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/showthread.php?t=296576" target="_blank">http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=296576</a><br><br>
And according to this poll, only 10% of the members here identify themselves as being in poverty:<br><br><a href="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/showthread.php?t=515109" target="_blank">http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=515109</a><br><br>
It was concluded a while ago that breastfeeding raises a child's IQ. They later realized that this is not the case-- instead, they determined that the mothers who breastfeed tend to have higher IQs than those who don't. So it was a genetic propensity, not a direct causality with breastmilk. I am wondering if the other benefits attributed to breastfeeding might in fact have as much to do with privilege and educated parents as with breastmilk. Probably the two factors dovetail as a potent force.<br><br>
For instance, breastfeeding has been established as a preventative against asthma. But poverty is also linked to asthma. So is it the poverty that influences the development of asthma, or the lack of breastmilk? And vice versa, is a breastfed child less likely to develop asthma, or is s/he less likely to develop asthma because s/he is born into a comparatively privileged environment (mom who is statistically more likely to have a higher IQ, higher education, higher household income)?<br><br>
I had never thought about this before.
 

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i agree that some factors can be attributed to socioeconomics. but i think more emphasis needs to be placed on genetics when things can not be directly attributed to breastfeeding. dh and i are of above average intelligence, but are on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum (i choose to sah, so we are only 1 income). i would *think* that natalie would have a propensity for being more intelligent based first on her genetics and then enhanced by the fact that she is receiving mother's milk made especially for her and her growing brain.<br><br>
as for asthma, i would think that there are more factors to that, as well and it can not be attributed to being more common in those of lower socioeconomic statuses. i think that the level of care one receives for the illness may differ due to financial constaints, but not the incidence of cases. my #2 and #3 children are asthmatics, both due to prematurity and the harsh climate in which we live. neither me or my ex have asthma or a family history of such, and we, too were lower socioeconomic status. our friends, who are considered higher socioeconomic status have 2 kids with asthma, and they also have no family history of such, but both parents smoke (neither child was premature).<br><br>
i wonder, is smoking also directly related to ones socioeconomic status?
 

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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">Breast-fed babies' IQ is higher than that of formula-fed babies, according to a meta-analysis of 20 articles.<br><br><b>After adjusting for factors that may influence intellect, including the mother's age and intelligence, birth order, race, birth weight, gestational age and socioeconomic status</b>, the study found that breastfeeding may raise a child's IQ by more than five. The enhanced cognitive development was evident as early as six months and was sustained through age 15. A dose-response relationship was demonstrated between duration of breastfeeding and cognitive benefit.<br><br>
What accounts for breast milk's brain boosting power? According to experts, nutrients present in breast milk may have a significant effect on neurologic development in premature and term infants.<br>
Anderson JW, Johnstone BM, Remley DT. Breast-feeding and cognitive development: a meta-analysis Am J Clin Nutr 1999 (Oct); 70 (4): 525-535</td>
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I think that though socio-economic factors certainly play a roll, good studies control for them.
 

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Just devil's advocate here -<br><br>
What if poverty is linked to increased asthma rates because those in poverty are statistically less likely to nurse? I know that poverty stricken areas can have worse air quality, so that is definitely part of it. But would nursing still lower those rates despite increased pollution? I think so.<br><br>
I think to reduce the benefits of breastfeeding (and the inherent risks of formula) to be about the family environment is a very dangerous simplification. Perhaps the vitamin and mineral composition is similar between breast milk and formula. And yes, now you can get formula with some essential fatty acids and now, apparently, probiotics. However, these are all laboratory approximations. We know that our bodies process vitamins and minerals from food better than we do from a pill. Why would it be different for a baby?<br><br>
What about the effects of the living and mama-baby pair specific antibodies in breast milk that CANNOT be produced in a lab? What about the skin on skin contact that you don't get with a bottle? What about the hormones produced while nursing? What about the protective aspect to mom & baby against all sorts of cancers and diseases? Are these all due to family environment and parenting style? I really don't think so.<br><br>
So, I will concede IQ - to a degree. However, even if you have a "high" IQ and were fed formula, think about how much *higher* it would be if you'd been nursed. This goes for other "benefits" of breastfeeding (benefits in quotes because they just are what they are - it's formula that is deficient in these things). Even if you are healthy and were formula fed, how much more healthy would you have been if you were nursed? And so on...<br><br>
We need to stop comparing nursing to formula and instead turn it around and compare formula to nursing. Formula will fall short every time.
 

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This is a pretty narrow view of breastfeeding; ie: only in the US, right? What about all the mamas who breastfeed in third world countries and everywhere around the world? The moms who breastfeed are not only better educated and more affluent. That is true in the US unfortunately but I do not think it is true globally.
 

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<a href="http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics%3B100/6/1035" target="_blank">http://aappolicy.aappublications.org...s%3b100/6/1035</a><br><br>
That is the link for the AAP statement on breastfeeding. At the bottom, all of their sources are cited and linked. Here you will find many many studies that control for socioeconomic status, demonstrate the increased need to breastfeed when in poor economic situations, and many that pull their data from the people who are not privileged.<br><br>
One such study:<br><br><a href="http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/abstract/330/2/81?ijkey=424a2dc156cab2cf7c7fb2fade034ca605b8f577&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha" target="_blank">http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/...e2=tf_ipsecsha</a><br><br>
But there are many more examples that are cited in the AAP's statement.
 

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I know one person's experience is not indicative of a group's, but I only fit part of the "most likely to breastfeed" criteria and I'm tandem nursing my 2 1/2 year old and my 1 year old. When I had my son, we were living below the poverty level and I was eligible for WIC. I was on WIC during the first 2 years of his life, and the WIC counselors at my office had never seen a mom breastfeed a two year old. By that time, I was also nursing while pregnant and one of them asked me "isn't it dangerous to nurse while you're pregnant."<br><br>
I don't think WIC is such the benefit during the first year of life that society hopes it is. It doesn't do enough to encourage breastfeeding among women who are statistically likely to formula feed.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>prettypixels</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/9080662"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">This is a pretty narrow view of breastfeeding; ie: only in the US, right? What about all the mamas who breastfeed in third world countries and everywhere around the world? The moms who breastfeed are not only better educated and more affluent. That is true in the US unfortunately but I do not think it is true globally.</div>
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Actually, unfortunately there has been a steady decline of breastfeeding in third world countries. I know I'm only one person, but in my lifetime in Central America, I witnessed the cultural attitude go from "of course you're going to breastfeed that child; it's what you do!" to "Eh, just give the kid formula; it's just as good."<br><br>
The really unfortunate thing is that formula in third world countries is often seen as a status symbol. Before, breastfeeding was a necessity; it was the only way poor women could feed their babies... So it became associated with poverty. Now, in modern times, it is seen as a "badge of honor" for poor women in the third world to carry around a tin of formula. It says, wordlessly, "See? I don't have to breastfeed; I can afford to buy formula. See? I'm not really poor." Horrible, but that's the sad reality.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mommyddeville</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/9085795"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I know one person's experience is not indicative of a group's, but I only fit part of the "most likely to breastfeed" criteria and I'm tandem nursing my 2 1/2 year old and my 1 year old. When I had my son, we were living below the poverty level and I was eligible for WIC. I was on WIC during the first 2 years of his life, and the WIC counselors at my office had never seen a mom breastfeed a two year old. By that time, I was also nursing while pregnant and one of them asked me "isn't it dangerous to nurse while you're pregnant."<br><br>
I don't think WIC is such the benefit during the first year of life that society hopes it is. It doesn't do enough to encourage breastfeeding among women who are statistically likely to formula feed.</div>
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Unfortunately, it depends on the WIC office as to the level of breastfeeding support you get and what is and isn't common. Not everyone in the office is trained in breastfeeding and infant nutrition to know more than breast is best and breastfed babies are healthier. I've heard some pretty boneheaded things from some of the clerks and nutritionist's assistants. I'm not even a trend setter when it comes to our breastfeeding peer counselors in my district. I'm breastfeeding beyond age 2 and while pregnant. I still get odd looks and raised eyebrows from the clerks. My last coworker was breastfeeding her two year old, and others in the region, but in other districts, extended breastfeed too. We're all available 24/7 for phone consultation, and do home visits by appointment. As far as economic situation impacting the benefits of breastfeeding, I'll have to look in the Pediatrics archives...<br><br>
I found this:<br><a href="http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/99/6/e5?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=breastfeeding+United&andorexactfulltext=and&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&sortspec=relevance&resourcetype=HWCIT" target="_blank">http://pediatrics.aappublications.or...urcetype=HWCIT</a><br>
A Longitudinal Analysis of Infant Morbidity and the Extent of Breastfeeding in the United States<br>
[/QUOTE]Infant age and gender; other liquid and solid intake; maternal education, occupation, and smoking; household size; family income; and day care use were adjusted for in the full models.[/QUOTE]<br><br>
Basically says the less breastmilk you give the higher the risks of illness.
 

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The only way to truly do a scientific study that determines if breastfeeding benefits are independent of socioeconomic status is to have study participants breastfeed or not breastfeed their babies at the direction of those running the study.<br><br>
This is considered unethical, which is why such a random trial has not been done. And even that might not be enough, because there's no way to do a blind study. The control group would know they were the control group. Hard not to notice your baby is breastfeeding instead of drinking formula, you know?<br><br>
The data that has been used is the best available under those circumstances, and as others have pointed out, have in some cases been done in such a way as to correct for socioeconomic factors.
 

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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">The only way to truly do a scientific study that determines if breastfeeding benefits are independent of socioeconomic status is to have study participants breastfeed or not breastfeed their babies at the direction of those running the study.<br><br>
This is considered unethical, which is why such a random trial has not been done. And even that might not be enough, because there's no way to do a blind study. The control group would know they were the control group. Hard not to notice your baby is breastfeeding instead of drinking formula, you know?</td>
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Actually there was one group who could be ethically randomized....premature babies whose mothers could not provide breast milk.....and so, there have been studies----several----where these babies either got formula or breastmilk.....even special premature formulas versus breast milk. Both groupls were bottlefed....so even feeding method was the same.....and the breastmilk fed gruop did better than the formula fed group in a number of areas, IQ in particular.<br><br>
So, there really is something special about the milk.
 

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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>G8P4</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/9089004"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Actually there was one group who could be ethically randomized....premature babies whose mothers could not provide breast milk.....and so, there have been studies----several----where these babies either got formula or breastmilk.....even special premature formulas versus breast milk. Both groupls were bottlefed....so even feeding method was the same.....and the breastmilk fed gruop did better than the formula fed group in a number of areas, IQ in particular.<br><br>
So, there really is something special about the milk.</div>
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i'd like to see this study. i'd also like to know who decided whether or not they got b-milk. if the mother is pumping and feeding her own b-milk or if the b-milk was donated. do you have a link?<br>
tia,
 

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Interesting idea. I also ran across a study that suggested there was a certain amount of oxygen deprivation for babies using bottles that wasn't present when a baby was breastfeeding... I have to believe that if this is true, it could also confound studies on why breastmilk is better or whatever. I still believe it's the appropriate nutrition for human babies (can nature be THAT wrong?)
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>boobs4milk</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/9089722"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">i'd like to see this study. i'd also like to know who decided whether or not they got b-milk. if the mother is pumping and feeding her own b-milk or if the b-milk was donated. do you have a link?<br>
tia,</div>
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It was in Pediatrics. If you go to the AAP site and search the archives with the key words of breastfeeding and premature I'm sure it would come up on the first page.<br><br>
Anna
 

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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>boobs4milk</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/9089722"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">i'd like to see this study. i'd also like to know who decided whether or not they got b-milk. if the mother is pumping and feeding her own b-milk or if the b-milk was donated. do you have a link?<br>
tia,</div>
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If you search google scholar for Lucas this study will come up. I don't think the babies were randomly assigned breast vs. bottle though, the mother was still required to provide the milk.<br><br>
The idea that breastmilk is not the benefit, that genetics and social status are the benefit seems somehow wrong to me. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it somehow feels similar to the eugenics propoganda pamphlet that I found on my grand-fathers bookshelf once. I wish I could articulate it better, but it just seems..... I don't know....classist? Racist?
 

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There was a study done on preemies who were tube fed either breast milk or formula. When these kids were 8, they were given I.Q. tests. The group that got formula in the tube scored an average of 8 points lower than the group that got breast milk. This shows that it's the content of the food and not being held or their parents' incomes that really mattered. 8 points on an I.Q. test, btw, is a HUGE difference. I believe for full term babies, the difference is 3ish points, which is still a statistically significant difference, but not a large difference.<br><br>
Hm. Rereading the posts, this must be the same study that G8P4 mentioned. Yes, it's true. You can think of it as the difference between white bread and whole wheat bread. You can live on white bread, but you will never be at the peak of health if you do.
 
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