What are the reasons a mother does or does not breastfeed? What effect does the decision have on the child, the mother, and society? Although there is a lot of scientific evidence for the health benefits of breastfeeding for both children and their mothers, still not much is known about women’s reasons for breastfeeding and how that decision is influenced by their sociocultural environment.
The University of Zurich (UZH) is now going to examine these questions at the new Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation Center for Economics of Child and Youth Development with a Focus on Breastfeeding”, the first research center of its kind in the world. It will be part of the Faculty of Business, Economics and Informatics and consist of a professorship and a research fund. Both will be financed by the Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation for a total of 10 million Swiss francs.
Valuable complement to the existing research field
“We are very glad that the Foundation is expanding its support. It enables an internationally unique research program to be initiated at UZH,” says President Michael Hengartner. It is planned that the new professor for the economics of child and youth development with a focus on breastfeeding will be appointed by the Fall Semester of 2018. The professorship endowed by the Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation is a valuable complement to the existing research being done at the Department of Economics into child and youth development.
The Foundation already initiated a professorship for human lactation research within the Faculty of Medicine at UZH in 2015. The Foundation invested 20 million Swiss francs into this endowed professorship, which is focused on researching the influence of breastfeeding and human milk on early child development.
Combining medical and economic research
“With the two professorships in economics and medicine at UZH, a unique research cluster will be created that will enable findings from the medical field about brain development in breastfed infants to be linked to findings relating to the long-term effect of breastfeeding on children and young people,” explains Göran Larsson, Chairman of the Board of the Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation. “We are pleased that we have been able to develop a fruitful partnership with UZH for the further development of human milk research with unique perspectives for teaching and research.”
Giving children a good start in life
Conducting research into the impact breastfeeding and human milk have on early childhood nutrition, and their later impact on health and on cognitive and social skills in adulthood, is challenging Such research is necessarily long-term in nature and requires an interdisciplinary approach as well as complex methodological processes. “Any discussion about giving children the best start in life is highly emotionally charged. All the more reason, then, why methodologically validated and evidence-based findings are needed,” says Prof. Ernst Fehr, behavioral economist and Co-initiator of the new research program.
Make new findings generally available
The Department of Economics has greatly increased its research efforts in the field of child and youth development in recent years and today boasts a large range of research projects in this area. “Our aim is to be able to make available new findings from our research activities to help mothers who are facing the decision of whether to breastfeed as well as for politicians or health-care professionals seeking reliable information and data sources”, adds Dr. Katharina Lichtner, Managing Director of the Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation. "The Department of Economics is therefore an ideal partner for us.”
UZH and Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation
The Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation, with its registered office in Zug, is the first international foundation dedicated to the subject of human milk and breastfeeding. The foundation was set up in 2013 with the aim of promoting scientific and public recognition of human milk as the best form of nutrition for newborn babies. It encourages and supports new research into breastfeeding and lactation and invests in projects and scientific activities around the world connected to human milk research. It puts an emphasis on interdisciplinary work and research into long-term benefits for mothers and children.