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Open Access Research article

Council tax valuation band predicts breast feeding and socio-economic status in the ALSPAC study population

Norman Beale1*, Gill Kane1, Mark Gwynne1, Carole Peart1, Gordon Taylor2, David Herrick3, Andy Boyd3 and ALSPAC Study Team3

Author Affiliations

1 Northlands R & D General Practice, Calne, SN11 0HH, UK

2 Bath & Swindon RDSU, Wolfson Centre, Royal United Hospital, Bath BA1 3NG, UK

3 Unit of Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, Department of Community Based Medicine, University of Bristol, 24 Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TQ, UK

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BMC Public Health 2006, 6:5  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-5

Published: 11 January 2006

Abstract

Background

Breast-feeding rates in the UK are known to vary by maternal socio-economic status but the latter function is imperfectly defined. We test if CTVB (Council Tax Valuation Band – a categorical assessment of UK property values and amenities governing local tax levies) of maternal address predicts, in a large UK regional sample of births, (a) breast-feeding (b) personal and socio-economic attributes of the mothers.

Methods

Retrospective study of a subset (n.1390 selected at random) of the ALSPAC sample (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children), a large, geographically defined cohort of mothers followed from early pregnancy to 8 weeks post-delivery. Outcome measures are attitudes to breast-feeding prior to delivery, breast-feeding intention and uptake, demographic and socio-economic attributes of the mothers, CTVB of maternal home address at the time of each birth. Logistic regression analysis, categorical tests.

Results

Study sample: 1360 women divided across the CTVBs – at least 155 in any band or band aggregation. CTVB predicted only one belief or attitude – that bottle-feeding was more convenient for the mother. However only 31% of 'CTVB A infants' are fully breast fed at 4 weeks of life whereas for 'CTVB E+ infants' the rate is 57%. CTVB is also strongly associated with maternal social class, home conditions, parental educational attainment, family income and smoking habit.

Conclusion

CTVB predicts breast-feeding rates and links them with social circumstances. CTVB could be used as the basis for accurate resource allocation for community paediatric services: UK breast-feeding rates are low and merit targeted promotion.