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A new study has found that adults who were breastfed as babies earn more than those who were not

The findings suggest that a higher rate of breastfeeding could lead to ‘substantial returns’ for national economies.

Image: Shutterstock/Alena Ozerova

A NEW STUDY has found that adults who were breastfed as babies went on to have a higher household income in comparison to those who were not.

The study, conducted by researchers at Queen’s University Belfast, looked at around 9,000 participants from a nationally representative sample of babies born in England, Wales and Scotland in 1958.

It found that adults who were breastfed had a 10% higher household income by the age of 50 in comparison to those who were not breastfed.

Dr Mark McGovern, who led the study, suggested that a higher rate of breastfeeding could lead to economic benefits.

Breastfeeding rates in the UK, especially in Northern Ireland, remain low by international standards.

However, McGovern said that a 10% increase in the number of breastfed babies in Northern Ireland each year could generate around £100 million in additional earnings, of which around £20 million could be collected in the form of tax revenue.

By comparison, McGovern suggested the implementation of a large-scale programme to increase breastfeeding rates would cost around £500,000 per year.

“Comparing costs and benefits suggests that such a programme would be highly cost-beneficial over the long run,” he said.

He added: “Our concluding results so far in the study show that if more babies are breastfed there are likely to be substantial economic returns to the resources invested in these public health campaigns, and women and children could also benefit through improvements in health, cognitive ability, and greater earnings potential.”

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