The Adult Labor database examines information concerning pregnancy, birth or adoption of a baby for 190 countries. For more information, please read on, or use the buttons above to begin your analyses.
Breastfeeding has been demonstrated to markedly reduce the risk of infections, including diarrheal disease, respiratory tract infections, ear infections and meningitis, in infancy and early childhood. Studies have found that breastfed children experience a 1.5- to 5-fold lower relative risk of mortality. Furthermore, a higher fatality rate from diarrhea has been documented among bottle-fed children in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, as well as in developing countries. In countries with poor sanitation and very low average family incomes, the protective effects of breast-feeding continue after infancy. In addition to these well-established benefits, breastfeeding also results in positive health outcomes for women by decreasing risks of medical problems such as postpartum blood loss and hemorrhaging, ovarian cancer, breast cancer and osteoporosis. Breastfeeding may also enhance mother-child bonding, which is important for children's psychosocial development.
UN conventions have recognized the importance of guaranteeing women the right to breastfeed without facing discrimination and of ensuring infants the right to the higher levels of health that breastfeeding provides. The Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), signed by 193 countries, affirms "the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health" and calls for "appropriate measures to reduce infant and young child mortality." Specific reference is made to the "advantages of breastfeeding." CEDAW, which has been ratified by 185 countries, states that women should have appropriate services in connection with pregnancy and lactation. In 2000, working women's right to breastfeed was included in the International Labour Organization (ILO) Conference's new Maternity Protection Convention (Convention 183). The Convention calls for paid breastfeeding breaks and protection against discrimination on the basis of breastfeeding.
Paid maternity leave is enshrined in two widely accepted human rights protocols: the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (adopted by 155 countries), and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW, adopted by 185 countries). Paid leave for new mothers improves children's health outcomes by enabling mothers to provide essential care to their children, by facilitating breastfeeding, which reduces the risk of infectious and other diseases, and by increasing the likelihood that children will receive necessary immunizations, all of which contribute to lower infant mortality and morbidity rates. Increased parental leave also facilitates the formation of bonds between parents and infants, which fosters the child's positive emotional development. Paid leave for new mothers increases job and income security and improves families' economic conditions by increasing the long-term employment and earning prospects of working women and eliminating the wage "child penalty" that mothers often pay. Such workplace supports also benefit employers by reducing staff turnover, improving workers' productivity, increasing job satisfaction, and enhancing employees' commitment to their company's success.
Over the last century and a half, the dramatic increase in first men's and then women's participation in the wage and salary labor force has led more and more parents to earn a living away from their homes and the family members they care for. These transformations in work and family life make it equally important for working men as well as women to receive adequate leave to care for family members. Paternity leave is one of the key policies for improving gender equity at home, reducing marital stress, and contributing to the healthy development of newborns by increasing paternal involvement with their children and families. Paternity leave policies can also increase equity in the workplace. In nearly every country, women are disadvantaged in promotions and pay because of childbearing as they are expected to bear the bulk of parental leave for children. As a result, general parental leave policies that appear gender neutral on paper are often not so in practice. Leave designated specifically for working fathers can therefore provide important advantages for gender equity.
Analyzing data from 16 countries over 25 years, a recent study concluded that the presence of paid parental leave policies significantly decreased child mortality, even after controlling for income, health technology, and other factors likely to influence child health. Around the world, the availability of parental leave benefits increases the likelihood that mothers will breastfeed their infants during the critical first months of life, which has been shown to increase infants' immunologic protection against infection and reduce rates of morbidity and mortality in developed and developing nations alike. In addition to these health benefits, access to paid parental leave improves the long-term employment prospects and the earnings of working parents.