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Practical Support from Fathers and Grandmothers Is Associated with Lower Levels of Breastfeeding in the UK Millennium Cohort Study

Emmott, EH; Mace, R; (2015) Practical Support from Fathers and Grandmothers Is Associated with Lower Levels of Breastfeeding in the UK Millennium Cohort Study. PLoS One , 10 (7) , Article e0133547. 10.1371/journal.pone.0133547. Green open access

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Abstract

Mothers face trade-offs between infant care and subsistence/economic activities. In traditional populations, allomothers such as fathers and grandmothers support mothers with young infants, allowing them to reduce labour activities and focus on breastfeeding. Similarly, the positive impact of social support on breastfeeding has been highlighted in developed populations. However, these studies have generally focused on emotional support from fathers, peers and healthcare professionals. Given the availability of formula milk in developed populations, an evolutionary anthropological perspective highlights that practical support, unlike emotional support, may have negative associations with breastfeeding by enabling substitution of maternal care. Other kin, mainly grandmothers, may also be important allomothers influencing maternal breastfeeding levels. Here we explore the associations between different types of social support mothers receive from fathers/grandmothers and breastfeeding in the UK Millennium Cohort Study. We find frequent grandmother contact and father's parenting involvement are both associated with lower levels of breastfeeding, suggesting a negative relationship between practical support and breastfeeding. In contrast, father presence, potentially capturing emotional support, is associated with greater breastfeeding initiation. Our findings suggest that practical support and emotional support functions differently, and practical support may not encourage breastfeeding in developed populations.

Type: Article
Title: Practical Support from Fathers and Grandmothers Is Associated with Lower Levels of Breastfeeding in the UK Millennium Cohort Study
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0133547
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0133547
Language: English
Additional information: © 2015 Emmott, Mace. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1472456
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