According to a research conducted by the University College London, individuals who were breastfed as babies not only have a lower risk for getting infections, diabetes, obesity and heart disease, they also grow up to have an advantage when it comes to the social ladder.
The group of researchers studied two groups of people: around 17,400 born in 1958, and another group of 16,700 born in 1970. They were divided into three groups: never breastfed, breastfed for less than four weeks and breastfed for longer than four weeks.
Throughout their childhood, at ages 10 to 11 years old, these children were monitored based on how they would cope with stress and level of cognitive development. The same process was repeated when they turned 33 and 34 years old.
The researchers developed a 4-point scale which took into account various levels of “upward mobility”; namely unskilled/semiskilled manual to professional/managerial. Upward mobility, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “the capacity or facility for rising to a higher social or economic position.”
The results showed that the chance of upward social mobility among the participants was increased by as much as 24 percent, while the chance for downward social mobility was reduced by 20 percent. This upward mobility was more common among those who were breastfed as infants for weeks or more.
The researchers pointed out that their study was not able to conclude, though, if this upward mobility was an effect of the quality of the breast milk, with its nutritional benefits, or the level of intimacy created during the skin-to-skin contact of breastfeeding. This close contact between mother and child has also been found to have a correlation with a baby’s ability to react to and deal with stress as he grows up.