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Breastfeeding and child cognitive outcomes: evidence from a hospital-based breastfeeding support policy

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  • Del Bono, Emilia
  • Rabe, Birgitta

Abstract

This paper estimates the causal effects of breastfeeding on early child development using exogenous variation in breastfeeding support policies across UK maternity hospitals. Based on data from the Millennium Cohort Study, we find that mothers giving birth in hospitals where such policies are implemented are between 8 and 9 percentage points more likely to breastfeed exclusively at 4 and 8 weeks than mothers who give birth in other hospitals. The effect of breastfeeding are found to be large and positive on many different measures of child cognitive development throughout early childhood. In contrast to the previous literature, we find no statistically significant impact of breastfeeding on a number of health outcomes, but we see an improvement in child emotional development and maternal mental health.

Suggested Citation

  • Del Bono, Emilia & Rabe, Birgitta, 2012. "Breastfeeding and child cognitive outcomes: evidence from a hospital-based breastfeeding support policy," ISER Working Paper Series 2012-29, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:ese:iserwp:2012-29
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    File URL: https://www.iser.essex.ac.uk/research/publications/working-papers/iser/2012-29.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Clive R. Belfield & Inas Rashad Kelly, 2012. "The Benefits of Breast Feeding across the Early Years of Childhood," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(3), pages 251-277.
    2. Almond, Douglas & Currie, Janet, 2011. "Human Capital Development before Age Five," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
    3. Kleibergen, Frank & Paap, Richard, 2006. "Generalized reduced rank tests using the singular value decomposition," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 133(1), pages 97-126, July.
    4. Vella, Francis, 1993. "A Simple Estimator for Simultaneous Models with Censored Endogenous Regressors," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 34(2), pages 441-457, May.
    5. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman, 2008. "Formulating, Identifying and Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4).
    6. Kevin Denny & Orla Doyle, 2010. "The causal effect of breastfeeding on children’s cognitive development : a quasi-experimental design," Working Papers 201005, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    7. Francis Vella, 1998. "Estimating Models with Sample Selection Bias: A Survey," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(1), pages 127-169.
    8. Baker, Michael & Milligan, Kevin, 2008. "Maternal employment, breastfeeding, and health: Evidence from maternity leave mandates," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 871-887, July.
    9. Reilly, Siobhan & Evenhouse, Eirik, 2005. "Improved estimates of the benefits of breastfeeding using sibling comparisons to reduce selection bias," MPRA Paper 13434, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. Anita Kottwitz & Anja Oppermann & C. Katharina Spiess, 2016. "Parental leave benefits and breastfeeding in Germany: effects of the 2007 reform," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 859-890, December.
    2. Emla Fitzsimons & Marcos Vera-Hernandez, 2013. "Food for Thought? Breastfeeding and Child Development," IFS Working Papers W13/31, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    3. repec:eee:socmed:v:187:y:2017:i:c:p:101-108 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:eee:jhecon:v:55:y:2017:i:c:p:121-138 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Armin Falk & Fabian Kosse, 2016. "Early Childhood Environment, Breastfeeding and the Formation of Preferences," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 882, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    6. Kronborg, Hanne & Sievertsen, Hans Henrik & Wüst, Miriam, 2016. "Care around birth, infant and mother health and maternal health investments – Evidence from a nurse strike," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 201-211.
    7. Diwakar, Vidya & Malcolm, Michael & Naufal, George S, 2017. "Violent Conflict and Breastfeeding: The Case of Iraq," IZA Discussion Papers 10937, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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