Maternal breastfeeding and children's cognitive development

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27 Citations (Scopus)


Do children with lower test scores benefit more from breastfeeding than those with higher scores? In this paper, I examine the distributional effects of maternal breastfeeding on the cognitive test scores of 11,544 children who were born in 2000 and 2001 in the United Kingdom using a semiparametric quantile regression model. I find evidence that maternal breastfeeding has larger positive impacts on children with lower test scores. Effects for children below the 20th percentile are about 2–2.5 times greater than those for children above the 80th percentile. I also find that these distributional effects are larger when the duration of breastfeeding is extended. One policy implication is that a public policy aims at promoting breastfeeding might narrow a disparity in children's cognition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-108
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Aug 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Children's development
  • Distributional effects
  • Maternal breastfeeding
  • Semiparametric quantile regression
  • United Kingdom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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