A new Queensland study has found that the ‘baby of the family’ is more likely to be bottle fed, even when mothers have breastfed older children in the same family.
University of Queensland School of Public Health PhD candidate Natalie Holowko is researching the link between socio-economic factors, birth order and breastfeeding rates.
“Breastfeeding reduces a child’s risk of being overweight or obese, making it one of the first lines of defence against the emerging obesity epidemic,” Natalie said. “Breastfeeding was started with 83 per cent of newborns, but only 59 per cent of six-month-olds were still being breastfed.”
The study analysed 4700 mothers as part of an Australian longitudinal study conducted over 20 years, also found that university-educated women were almost twice as likely to initiate breastfeeding as opposed to women with a high-school education.
“Interestingly, women with a parent who had fewer than 10 years of education were about one-and-a-half times as likely to not breastfeed,” Natalie said. However, there appears to be a complete turn around for the “baby of the family”.
“We discovered that women – particularly those with a higher level of education – were less likely to breastfeed their youngest child,” she said. “This may suggest that women are returning to work soon after reaching their desired number of children.”
The study also found that the number of children a woman had also influenced breastfeeding, with results showing that firstborns are more likely to be breastfed if their mothers went on to have more children.
The current Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend exclusive breastfeeding for at least six months and continued breastfeeding up to 12 months and beyond.
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