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

If she said that then she's a very poor user of language. If she means that likeliness to bf is strongly correlate with social class then of course she's correct.

usualsuspect Wed 26-Jun-13 07:34:09

She did say that. She said being BF has a direct result on where you end up in life.

That being BF helps you climb the social ladder.

Load of bollocks if you ask me.

Finallygotaroundtoit Wed 26-Jun-13 07:35:36

It's not a random theory she dreamt up - it's statistics demonstrating a measurable effect!

It's not judging people confused

usualsuspect Wed 26-Jun-13 07:35:41

I mean it's not like you write it on your CV .

blondecat Wed 26-Jun-13 07:36:12

Or perhaps she just has a very poor grasp of logic

Just because A and B tend to go together, it doesn't follow that A causes / determines B

This sort of reasoning is very common. It's just a shame that its proponents are invited to speak as 'experts'

Well that's just bollocks isn't it. It has a couple of points improvement on IQ on average, but that's not going to be enough to move your social class. The thing that makes you most likely to be of class X is having a mother of class X, which affects how likely she is to bf you - so the causation is precisely the wrong way around. She's an idiot.

Well, I wasn't breast fed and I'm as posh as the queen.

SIBVU.

lightrain Wed 26-Jun-13 07:40:13

Finally - it's not correct though. Just because there are statistics to show that more ice creams are eaten on hot days, it doesn't mean that if people eat ice creams it makes the weather hot.

People in a certain social class may breast feed more, but this does not mean that if you are breast fed, you will move social class! It's not causal.

usualsuspect Wed 26-Jun-13 07:40:30

I was BF and I'm as common as muck grin

usualsuspect Wed 26-Jun-13 07:41:55

She really did say it helps you move social classes.

I was all hmm at the tv.

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

MadBannersAndCopPorn Wed 26-Jun-13 07:51:23

She said that her study was based on looking at the father's social class growing up compared to the child's social class after being breast\ bottle fed. (She didn't mention the mother)
As the reporter pointed out, what happens if one child in a household is breastfed and one bottlefed etc.
What about in countries like france where they barely breastfeed past hospital? Or in third world countries where most mothers breastfeed?
I Believe it's bollocks, as someone said, it's not something you put on your cv.

MaMattoo Wed 26-Jun-13 07:52:57

Ye gods!!

SpooMoo Wed 26-Jun-13 07:59:52

It's correlation not causation. More middle class people breastfeed.

You'd think someone would've pointed her bad logic out before she went on telly....

Fozziebearmum2be Wed 26-Jun-13 08:05:57

Eating ice cream makes you wear shorts

ComtessedeFrouFrou Wed 26-Jun-13 08:07:28

This sort of stuff had always annoyed me, but now I'm pg it's started giving me the rage.

There was an article in the Telegraph yesterday by Vryony Gordon that mentioned that she had switched bottle feeding and that she didn't believe that it made very much of a significant difference and the comments were filled with people condemning her and telling her that her child would end up in prison or mentally deficient. Guess who the comments were mostly made by? Men - saying "my wife this" and "my wife that".

Don't bloody comment until you're actually qualified by having tried it.

OnTheNingNangNong Wed 26-Jun-13 08:10:23

I bottle fed one child and breastfed the other. If only I knew that I was setting one child up for a lower social class than the other, I wouldn't have bothered breastfeeding. <Wails>

Although, the breastfeeding mothers in my area are all 'working class'.

ExcuseTypos Wed 26-Jun-13 08:17:23

I'm sure I heard them talking about this on the radio yesterday. I cant remember too much as I zoned out thinking what a load of bollocks.

I have one breast fed dd and one bottle fed. I'm sure that wont be the deciding factor, in their life, as to which SC they end up in.

Katnisscupcake Wed 26-Jun-13 08:18:32

Out of a family of five, the two eldest (my elder sister and I) were bottle-fed (various medical issues) and the three youngest were breast-fed.

My elder sister and I definitely live in a higher social circle (albeit not that high around here smile) than the other three. So clearly it is bo**ocks.

My Dad was very well known in the local area (involved in local organisations etc) and quite 'well-to-do' and was around when we were growing up so we're like him. When the younger three were small he had to start working away from home so they didn't get as much interaction with him and that's the reason that they didn't get the same opportunities as we did to meet people.

Nothing to do with how we were fed - but how we were raised!

MadBannersAndCopPorn Wed 26-Jun-13 08:19:33

It's coming up again on BBC1 at 8.50.

Katnisscupcake Wed 26-Jun-13 08:20:44

Also, on an intelligence level. I was the only one that got into the Grammar school (although it may well have been easier 28 years ago than it is now). The others didn't. And I was bottle-fed!

thebody Wed 26-Jun-13 08:21:35

My dm proudly tells me she could bf, have a fag and a coffee at the same time. 😜 thanks mum.

MadBannersAndCopPorn Wed 26-Jun-13 08:31:14

My grandmother, who had her first DS circa 1944 said that it showed that you were lower class if you breastfed. So, the better off you were the less likely to breastfeed you were. She fed My eldest uncle on formula, cow's milk and condensed (or was it eveporated?) milk.
They're all as posh as you like...

My mother (the youngest), however was breastfed and went on to be the absolute rebel of the family, having children out of wedlock with a black American and living in a council flat with a bastard child (Oh, the shame!!)

AuntieStella Wed 26-Jun-13 08:49:33

I half heard this - she seemed to be saying that breast-fed babies were more likely that bottle-fed ones to end up in a higher social class than their parents, so it was (a generation ago) associated with upwards social mobility.

The BBC didn't seem to give airtime to the detail of the study, and how it allowed for known confounders (such as mother's educational level) nor whether the reported effect applied to all social classes.

Can anyone link the study itself, so we can see if that was done?

For at the moment, I don't know whether it's poor quality reporting or the study itself that makes it seem somewhat lacking.

MadBannersAndCopPorn Wed 26-Jun-13 08:52:22

Well the professor (sp) didn't say anything about it helping people climb the social ladder, so... Bollocks

LuisSuarezTeeth Wed 26-Jun-13 08:54:12

Robert wins ton just waffled about rodents and aggression and skin contact. Do ff babies have no skin contact then??

kim147 Wed 26-Jun-13 08:56:53

Haven't watched the clip, but they are probably talking about this study that came out yesterday.

Didactylos Wed 26-Jun-13 08:58:00

Grrr

Correlation is not causation
Correlation is not causation....
Con brio

kim147 Wed 26-Jun-13 08:58:01

Pressed too soon.

I think they compared the father's social class to the childrens. Because that's what's important confused

X posts with Kim.

Cravingdairy Wed 26-Jun-13 09:01:40

Have you all read the report then?

PurplePidjin Wed 26-Jun-13 09:03:41

Of the three women interviewed, the longest any had fed their child was 5 1/2 months. Fab achievement for her, but there are many many many people who go longer, so how does that represent both ends of the spectrum?!

Lilymaid Wed 26-Jun-13 09:07:46

You should be able to read the whole journal article by clicking on the link to the right . Next week there'll probably be some other research stating the opposite or something completely different.

Dawndonna Wed 26-Jun-13 09:10:28

Tis indeed bollocks.
Both my boys were breastfed. I had two operations on one breast, so by the time twins came along, I couldn't breastfeed.
Bollocks, indeed.

Cherrypi Wed 26-Jun-13 09:11:35

That irritated me too purple. It was dreadfully covered they need not have bothered. Why aren't they cove

Cherrypi Wed 26-Jun-13 09:12:31

Covering the Texas abortion story more instead of Judy Murray not dyeing her hair grrr.

soverylucky Wed 26-Jun-13 09:12:59

Bollockarama! I bet prince William was ff.

TheOneAndOnlyAllan Wed 26-Jun-13 09:17:13

If it's chances of moving upwards soverylucky then where exactly do you think William could go? grin

KatyTheCleaningLady Wed 26-Jun-13 09:19:34

When I lived in the Highlands, I went to a toddler group where all the mums were pregnant and we all bf'd our babies. Seemed normal. I guess a lot of the mums were middle class hippies who had moved up from England.

I moved to a council estate in suburbs of Glasgow and was the only mum to bf at the toddler group. The other mums looked at me funny and wouldn't talk to me. I think it was because I was foreign, but the bf ing didn't help.

The article does seem to show some causation rather than just a correlation. The causation is supposed to be between changes in social class for people born in 1958 and 1970 (at which point, your father's or hunsband's occupation was generally used to determine your social class). The study shows that breastfed people in these cohorts were more likely to be upwardly mobile and less likely to be downward key mobile than those who were not breastfed.

However, it might not actually be relevant to contemporary formula feeding because (a) at that time people used all manner of milk (evaporated, cows, formula) to bottle feed and (b) formula has changed a great deal in the last 50 years. Indeed, research shows the difference in 'risk' to children fed with contemporary formula and those who are breastfed is utterly insignificant in comparison to the risks posed by feeding infants anything else (e.g. evaporated milk and cow's milk). So I'm not sure the result can in any way be transferred to contemporary women's choices.

KatyTheCleaningLady Wed 26-Jun-13 09:23:24

Anyway, as for correlation :

I think peer pressure is a big factor in bf or not. Those working class mums who bf are probably less likely to go along with the norms of their peers, which may be a way of saying they're aspirational. So, there could be resultant social climbing.

There have also been big changes in society so the chances of social mobility for babies today are completely different than they were for those born in the 1950s and 1970s. I really don't see how this study could say anything about formula feeding or the life chances of babies in 2013.

mrsjay Wed 26-Jun-13 09:25:49

Being breast fed determines social class.....

oh jeezus class starting at the boob <rolls eyes>

KatyTheCleaningLady Wed 26-Jun-13 09:26:50

I think there can be actual hostility towards those who come across as aspirational. Both from their peers who think they're putting on airs and from the class above who resent the encroachment.

And parenting choices are probably where we are most vulnerable to criticism.

needaholidaynow Wed 26-Jun-13 09:29:39

My 2 weren't breast fed. That means they'll scrounge off the poor ickle tax payer live off benefits forever.

mrsjay Wed 26-Jun-13 09:31:13

yes my degree studying non bf dd is going to be a scurge on society grin

hackmum Wed 26-Jun-13 09:36:23

This is from the Independent report:

"The analysis of more than 34,000 people born in the 1950s and 1970s found that those who had been breastfed as a baby were 24 per cent more likely to be upwardly mobile – and 20 per cent less likely to drop down the social ladder."

...

"Two groups of people – born in 1958 and in 1970 – were categorised by the job their father did when they were 10 or 11, and the job they themselves had when they were 33 or 34."

So, two possible explanations: either breastfeeding has a measurable effect on things like intelligence (assuming upward mobility is the result of greater intelligence), or women who choose to breastfeed are more likely to do other things to support their children, such as read to them, help with homework, make sure they have proper bedtimes, all those kinds of things.

catgirl1976 Wed 26-Jun-13 09:38:08

DS was combi fed - does that mean he will be MC? confused

Or just eat Greggs sausage rolls in between chukkas at the Polo?

kim147 Wed 26-Jun-13 09:41:07

I can imagine in such a large study that there is a lot to control for so the only variable is breastfeeding or formula feeding.

Otherwise other factors come into account.

I'm not sure if it is possible to control every variable to make a direct comparison.

fairnotfair Wed 26-Jun-13 09:48:17

Post hoc, ergo propter hoc, as I always say (in between sips of Thunderbird)

Hack mum: the abstract says that differences in cognitive functioning account for 36% of the difference.

I couldn't be bothered to wade through the whole paper to find out exactly what they controlled for though. I hate reading quantitative stuff. Nonetheless, there is no way that it could be relevant to contemporary formula feeding because a great deal has changed in the last 50-odd years (both in terms of the composition of the formula itself and in how parents organise formula feeding).

MadBannersAndCopPorn Wed 26-Jun-13 09:49:42

As BBC reporter said, there are so, so many other occurrences in a child's life which could affect their outcome.
I had a friend who came from a very upper-class, privileged background (loving parents, great opportunities etc) who is currently a heroin addict and living in a squat. (perhaps he was ff?)
ArbitaryUsername is right, the way we ff babies has changed dramatically since 1958 and indeed, breastfeeding. Women were not advised to feed on demand but, every 3/4 hours regardless of how hungry the baby seemed.
The way we 'nurture' babies has also changed as cc was the norm and babies stayed in hospital in litttle cribs for at least a week after being born. You can't compare it to modern life whatsoever.

ComtessedeFrouFrou Wed 26-Jun-13 09:49:57

I would love for someone to do a study where thy get people from all walks of life and doing all sorts of jobs - entrepreneurs, high court judges, idle rich, bank managers, teachers, shop assistants, server in macdonalds and cleaners say (I apologise in advance if this list is offensive to anyone - no doubt someone will take umbrage) and get people to guess whether they were breast or bottle fed.

I bet that the spread of breast feeding vs bottle feeding would be reasonably even and that no-one would be able to reliable judge which had been breast fed and which had been bottle fed.

That would be a proper test of whether it realty matters in the end.

Maybe then we might be able to let people feed their babies in peace, by whatever means they think best.

The thing about longitudinal studies of these kind is that they really can only tell you about how things worked over the period during which they were conducted because all sorts of things change in society over time. A study following children born this week until middle age will not tell you anything about the effects of childrearing practices in 2063 because, by then, parents will probably be looking back at what their grandparents (i.e us) did in horror. And we can't possibly know what it is about what we're doing that will horrify them.

MadBannersAndCopPorn Wed 26-Jun-13 10:15:19

YY ComtessedeFrouFrou

hamilton75 Wed 26-Jun-13 12:32:20

I think its pretty well acknowledged that middle class women are more likely to breastfeed however I don't understand how and why that would translate into social mobility/moving upwards once they are older. It doesn't make much sense to me.

PurplePidjin Wed 26-Jun-13 12:56:37

Haha, CherryPi i had an almost identical rant to dp!

Has no one considered the impact of a grammar school education on social mobility? Maybe that couple of IQ points was enough to pass the 11+ which would improve life chances for children from a less privileged socio-economic background

<hark at me with the bf-all-fecking-night baby using all them long words. I was ff and all!>

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.

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

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.

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

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 ....

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.

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

I know my place.

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

<looks down on Tethers>

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

<doffs cap at usual>

<mixes formula>

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.

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

Utter drivel.

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.

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

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.

So... bollocks then? grin

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

"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

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

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.

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.....

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.

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