Local environmental quality positively predicts breastfeeding in the UK's Millennium Cohort Study.


Brown, LJ; Sear, R; (2017) Local environmental quality positively predicts breastfeeding in the UK's Millennium Cohort Study. Evolution, medicine, and public health, 2017 (1). pp. 120-135. ISSN 2050-6201 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/emph/eox011

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Abstract

Background and Objectives: Breastfeeding is an important form of parental investment with clear health benefits. Despite this, rates remain low in the UK; understanding variation can therefore help improve interventions. Life history theory suggests that environmental quality may pattern maternal investment, including breastfeeding. We analyse a nationally representative dataset to test two predictions: (i) higher local environmental quality predicts higher likelihood of breastfeeding initiation and longer duration; (ii) higher socioeconomic status (SES) provides a buffer against the adverse influences of low local environmental quality. Methodology: We ran factor analysis on a wide range of local-level environmental variables. Two summary measures of local environmental quality were generated by this analysis-one 'objective' (based on an independent assessor's neighbourhood scores) and one 'subjective' (based on respondent's scores). We used mixed-effects regression techniques to test our hypotheses. Results: Higher objective, but not subjective, local environmental quality predicts higher likelihood of starting and maintaining breastfeeding over and above individual SES and area-level measures of environmental quality. Higher individual SES is protective, with women from high-income households having relatively high breastfeeding initiation rates and those with high status jobs being more likely to maintain breastfeeding, even in poor environmental conditions. Conclusions and Implications: Environmental quality is often vaguely measured; here we present a thorough investigation of environmental quality at the local level, controlling for individual- and area-level measures. Our findings support a shift in focus away from individual factors and towards altering the landscape of women's decision making contexts when considering behaviours relevant to public health.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health > Dept of Population Health (2012- ) > Dept of Population Studies (1974-2012)
Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health > Dept of Population Health (2012- )
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PubMed ID: 29354262
URI: http://researchonline.lshtm.ac.uk/id/eprint/4646181

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