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Woman with a higher social standing and educational attainment breastfeed for longer
Date:9/30/2011

New research analyses maternal breastfeeding in Spain throughout the second half of the twentieth century. Experts believe that its development is associated with socio-demographic factors such as the advice of healthcare professionals, longer maternity leave, a woman's integration into the workplace and her level of education.

"Up until not long ago, maternal breastfeeding was vital for infant survival but things have changed in the second half of the twentieth century. This is mainly due to the arrival of artificial lactation," explains Juan Ramn Ordomaa, researcher at the University of Murcia, Spain and lead author of the study.

Published in the Journal of Human Lactation, the study analyses how maternal breastfeeding rates have evolved in the region of Murcia and, indeed, the rest of Spain, in recent decades and whether women who had children in the 1960's behaved in the same way as those who had children in the 1980's or 1990's.

The average time that a mother breastfeeds has changed over the studied period. Ordoana confirms that "what our results show is a U-shaped graph. Women breastfed for longer periods of time in the 1960's (61.3% for longer than six months) and 1990's (29% also for longer than six months) whereas the shortest periods occurred in the 1970's and 1980's (14.4% and 19.2% respectively).

Researchers studied 666 women who had been first time mothers from a period starting in the 1960's and ending in the 1990's. As well as gathering information on the child's diet, experts collected socio-demographic data with particular focus on the mother's educational attainment.

Ordoana outlines that "the effect of greater educational attainment on the duration of the breastfeeding period is not always the same and it very much depends on social context."

As such, women with medium and high educational attainment displayed drastically shorter breastfeeding periods at the beginning of the 1970
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Contact: Juan Ramn Ordoana Martn
ordonana@um.es
34-868-887-791
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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