Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

Infant feeding and post-weaning health: evidence from turn-of-the-century London

Arthi, Vellore and Schneider, Eric B. ORCID: 0000-0001-7682-0126 (2021) Infant feeding and post-weaning health: evidence from turn-of-the-century London. Economics and Human Biology, 43. ISSN 1570-677X

[img] Text (Schneider_infant-feeding-and-post-weaning-health--accepted) - Accepted Version
Repository staff only until 5 October 2023.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (2MB) | Request a copy

Identification Number: 10.1016/j.ehb.2021.101065


Evidence on the post-weaning benefits of early-life breastfeeding is mixed, and highly context-dependent. Moreover, this evidence is drawn almost exclusively from modern settings, limiting our understanding of the relationship between breastfeeding and subsequent health in the past. We provide novel evidence on the nature and reach of these post-weaning benefits in a historical setting, drawing on a rich new longitudinal dataset covering nearly 1000 children from the Foundling Hospital, an orphanage in turn-of-the-century London. We find that even after the cessation of breastfeeding, ever-breastfed status reduced mortality risk and raised weight-for-age in infancy, that exclusive breastfeeding conferred additional benefits, and that breastfeeding duration had little impact. We also find a U-shaped pattern in weight-for-age by time since weaning, indicating a deterioration in health shortly after weaning, followed by a recovery. The early post-weaning advantages associated with breastfeeding, however, did not persist into mid-childhood. This indicates that any protective effects of earlier breastfeeding attenuated with age, and suggests a strong role for catch-up growth. This study contributes to the data and empirical settings available to explore the relationship between infant feeding and post-weaning health, and helps shed light on the contribution of changing breastfeeding norms to trends in health in twentieth-century Britain.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 Elsevier B.V.
Divisions: Economic History
Subjects: R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics > RJ101 Child Health. Child health services
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
JEL classification: J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J1 - Demographic Economics > J13 - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
N - Economic History > N3 - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income, and Wealth > N33 - Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income and Wealth: Europe: Pre-1913
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2021 08:30
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2021 01:11

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics