Informal childcare curbs chances of infants being breastfed

Jun 23, 2010

Babies who are looked after by relatives, friends, and neighbours while their mothers are at work, are less likely to be breastfed, suggests research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

This applies to both full time and part time care, and all strata of society, the research indicates.

The findings are based on 18,050 , who were part of the UK Millennium Cohort Study, which tracks the long term health and wellbeing of children born between 2000 and 2002.

In the UK in 2005 only one in four mothers breastfed any amount for six months - the minimum period for exclusive recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) - with rates among mothers from poor backgrounds even lower.

The researchers wanted to find out whether childcare arrangements and had any impact on breastfeeding rates and assessed whether the infants had been breastfed for at least four months, which was the WHO recommended minimum until 2003.

Formal childcare provision was classified as a nursery, crčche, childcare centre or registered childminder. Informal childcare was classified as a friend, neighbour, relative or unregistered childminder.

Around a third of infants were breastfed for at least four months. In all, 7% (1430) were placed in informal childcare between birth and the age of 4 months and 2.3% (360) were placed in formal childcare.

The analyses showed that, after taking account of whether the mother had returned to work, infants in informal childcare were 50% less likely to be breastfed than those looked after only by a parent, and those in formal childcare around 15% less likely to be breastfed.

Informal childcare arrangements reduced the likelihood of an infant being breastfed across the board, irrespective of whether provision was part time or full time.

But when it came to formal childcare, only full time provision reduced the likelihood of breastfeeding - and then only for mothers with a degree, those from managerial and professional backgrounds, and those with partners.

By contrast, lone mothers were 65% more likely to breastfeed an infant provided with formal childcare.

"It is likely that for many , it is not childcare use in isolation that influences the decision to breastfeed, but a chain of antenatal decisions about infant feeding, childcare and employment," comment the authors.

But the fact that informal childcare had the strongest impact on breastfeeding irrespective of social and economic factors prompts them to conclude that UK breastfeeding campaigns should target everyone, not just those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Explore further: Changing diagnosis codes will challenge emergency medicine

Related Stories

Breastfed babies breathe better, except when mom has asthma

Nov 01, 2007

When it comes to feeding babies, the old adage “breast is best” certainly holds true, with breastfed babies having less diarrhea and fewer ear infections and incidents of wheezing in early life. However, the positive ...

Recommended for you

Clinical trial reduces stress of cancer caregivers

15 hours ago

Stem cell transplant is essential in the care of many blood cancers, but leaves patients requiring in-home care for months after. Frequently the role of caregiver falls to family or other committed members ...

Video: Debunking three common food myths

16 hours ago

You might have heard that microwaving your food is dangerous. Maybe your health nut friend told you that eating frozen veggies is less healthful than eating fresh ones. Is a glass of red wine really good ...

Tackling child abuse in Africa with research and fun

19 hours ago

In one of South Africa's poorest areas, an imaginative new parenting programme is tackling the physical and emotional abuse of children. Oxford University's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andrew Hamilton, travelled ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.