To call bollocks on this woman on bbc news...

(85 Posts)
MadBannersAndCopPorn Wed 26-Jun-13 07:28:05

Being breast fed determines social class........ Okay

TarkaTheOtter Thu 27-Jun-13 09:05:13

Very easy to control for wealth and parental education so would amaze me if anything published these days that ignored these. Agree that something intangible like how "child centred" parent is could confound in a regular regression though.

Having read the paper now. The authors seem to think that their propensity score matching across two cohorts method has eliminated the chance of bias from confounding factors. I don't know enough about this methodology to comment. Anyone know if the journal is a good one? The authors make lots of claims of causation that seem to have been supported by the peer review process.

Lazyjaney Thu 27-Jun-13 07:14:11

To really prove the superiority of bf you probably need to take sibling outcomes from parents who bf one child and ff another, over a large population, as that way you have controlled for the social factors - and then see if there is a significantly better outcome for the bf siblings.

That research has never been done afaik.....

Lazyjaney Thu 27-Jun-13 07:08:22

"Lazeyjane that would be the case if the outcome it were measuring was the social class of the bf child, but from what arbitrary has said it is looking at the change in social class from parent to bf offspring so would have thought conflation not an issue here"

I read the paper, what it proves is that the children of mothers who breastfed for more than 4 weeks were more likely to move up the social scale. It doesnt prove that it was the breastfeeding that did it though, it asserts that as that is what they are measuring.

However it is fairly well known that the bf cohort tends to be more wealthy, child centred and more educated than the average. A lot of the bf research that "proves" extra health or intelligence has the same problem.

IMO they were so keen to prove the superiority of bf they willed a correlation to be a causation.

MadBannersAndCopPorn Thu 27-Jun-13 07:08:16

They really brushed over it on the news I think. It's dangerous as people take that little snippet of what they see as fact. They should have done a report on it. When the professor came on he just waffled and spouted stuff we already know about bf. He didn't mention social class. Afterwards I felt more confused!
Yet more reason for parents to think they're doing their children an injustice by not wanting to/ being able to bf

"catgirl1976 Wed 26-Jun-13 07:49:31

What a loon

That's like saying eating mushy peas makes you Northern, as opposed to saying mushy peas are more usually eaten by Northerners"

Oi, I'm northern and I never eat mushy peas. Therefore that statement is wrong.
wink

quesadilla Thu 27-Jun-13 06:29:09

I am quite shocked that the BBC could run a report on this without noting the difference between correlation and causation.

McGeeDiNozzo Thu 27-Jun-13 06:15:09

Sounds like oversimplifying something for the telly if you ask me.

TarkaTheOtter Thu 27-Jun-13 01:45:32

lazeyjane that would be the case if the outcome it were measuring was the social class of the bf child, but from what arbitrary has said it is looking at the change in social class from parent to bf offspring so would have thought conflation not an issue here.

Lazyjaney Wed 26-Jun-13 22:50:23

They are conflating attributes of being middle class with the benefits of being middle class (bf in the UK is mainly an educated, middle class thing). You would probably get the same conclusions looking at any middle class behaviours, habits, even possessions.

Iirc studies showing bf impacts on intelligence had much the same conflations.

Well, not entirely. I don't doubt that the study does actually show that being breastfed had some degree of influence on social mobility for people in the two cohorts it actually studied. I just don't think that can be transferred to generalised claims about breastfeeding determining social class.

So... bollocks then? grin

Right, I've skimmed the whole paper (and it was really dull). Tbh, I don't think it's a very good paper. The discussion mentions a couple of limitations but doesn't in any meaningful way address any of the issues to do with changes in infant feeding or society since the 1970s, which are likely to have an impact on the generalisability of their conclusions to other generations.

helenthemadex Wed 26-Jun-13 18:50:34

I'm telling my dc to put that they were breastfed on their CV's grin so they know what class they are

sue52 Wed 26-Jun-13 18:36:25

Total crap. I didn't BF and I have an Aga and a Labrador so I am very posh.

Badvoc Wed 26-Jun-13 18:34:32

Utter drivel.

TarkaTheOtter Wed 26-Jun-13 18:30:47

I've got no opinion on the findings, but the one person on this thread who it seems has actually read the article (or at least the abstract), arbitrary, has said that the authors believe they have found causation not just correlation. I don't know the literature on bfing at all but have done quantitative research and it is not particularly difficult to control for mothers intelligence level/parental income etc so it wod surprise me if any recent study hadn't done that. There may still be intangibles correlated with both bfing and social class and these in theory could confound the results though.

tethersend Wed 26-Jun-13 18:09:08

<doffs cap at usual>

<mixes formula>

usualsuspect Wed 26-Jun-13 18:07:22

<looks down on Tethers>

tethersend Wed 26-Jun-13 17:52:46

I know my place.

If you read the abstract it does say that the stats analysis does suggest a causal link not just a correlation though.But, as I said before, it's a causal link that applies only to the cohorts that were studied because both infant feeding practices and social structures have changed considerably in the intervening decades.

So the statement that being breastfed influenced (not determined) social mobility (not social class) for people born in 1958 and 1970 is consistent with the results of this study. And only 36% of this effect seems to have been attributable to differences in cognitive function. A bald statement about breastfeeding determining social class is utter nonsense.

The actual conclusion in the paper (or at least the abstract summary of it) is: 'Breast feeding increased the odds of upward social mobility and decreased the odds of downward mobility. Consistent with a causal explanation, the findings were robust to matching on a large number of observable variables and effect sizes were alike for two cohorts with different social distributions of breast feeding. The effect was mediated in part through neurological and stress mechanisms.'

Note this absolutely is not the same as breastfeeding determines social class.

I'm so glad it wasn't just me shouting at the TV this morning!

I've just been teaching my year 9's about the difference between a correlation and a causal link - if they can understand it then a 'professor' must be able to surely? shock

jeez ....

SmiteYouWithThunderbolts Wed 26-Jun-13 17:19:23

Wow. Even as a mahoosive bf advocate, I am rolling my eyes so much it hurts. Correlation, yes. It's well documented that bf rates are higher amongst certain socio-economic groups, and it follows that starting off in a particular social class increases your likelihood of staying in that class or "moving up". It does not mean that bf causes you to be of a particular class as an adult, anymore than being carted round in a certain brand of pushchair determines anything about your adult life.

Blimey, imagine that. Adverts for pretentious and nobby pushchairs promising that babies carried round in them are destined for high-flying careers! grin

kim147 Wed 26-Jun-13 17:17:57

My mum died a long time ago - I could ask my Dad but I think my childhood passed him by. Like when I asked him about childhood illnesses - I got a blank how am I supposed to now stare.

Well that look like me and 4 siblings are fucked but the last 2 were breast fed by our mum so they have a fighting chance grin

ComtessedeFrouFrou Wed 26-Jun-13 17:11:38

There was huuuuge social mobility between my paternal GF and my Dad - my GF left school at 14, worked in a mine and became a traffic copper and my Dad went to Cambridge rose quite high in a bank. Between me and my Sad, not so much. I have a more "traditionally" professional job, but my social class, income and status are no higher than my Dad's, although because of the way the business I work in is structured, there is eventually much greater earning power.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now