This paper uses an instrumental variables approach to study the causal effects of breastfeeding initiation and exclusivity at 4 weeks on a wide range of child health, cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes at ages 3-7. We exploit variation in breastfeeding brought about by hospitals’ implementation of breastfeeding support policies. Mothers giving birth in hospitals where such policies are fully implemented (there is a commitment to implement them) are 11 (3) percentage points more likely to initiate breastfeeding and to breastfeed exclusively at 4 weeks of the infants age than similar mothers are in other hospitals. Based on data from the Millennium Cohort Study, IV estimates indicate that breastfeeding has positive effects on some health outcomes throughout early childhood. Non-cognitive effects of breastfeeding do not emerge. By contrast, we find significant effects of breastfeeding on cognitive outcomes at ages 5 and 7 as measured by the British Ability Scale as well as teacher assessments.
Emilia Del Bono & Birgitta Rabe (ISER)
Date & time:
11 May 2011 12:00 pm - 11 May 2011 13:00 pm
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