The Benefits of Breast Feeding across the Early Years of Childhood
There has been much scrutiny recently of the choice to breast-feed rather than formula-feed an infant, yet key identification issues remain to be resolved. This study uses the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey--Birth Cohort to explore the causal effect of breast feeding on child development. Using simultaneous equations models and propensity score measures and adjusting for confounding factors, we examine health, physical, and cognitive outcomes and relate these to a set of breast feeding and formula feeding intensities measures. Our results indicate that breast feeding is protective against obesity and improves cognitive outcomes at 24 months and 54 months. Furthermore, not being formula-fed at birth is associated with higher motor scores.
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