Breastfeeding in infant's first three months linked with lower obesity risk in childhood

04:39 PM Jan 13, 2024 | PTI |

Consistent breastfeeding in the first three months after birth was associated with a lower risk of developing obesity in childhood, according to a new research.


The findings were observed in infants fed either exclusively through breastfeeding or through a mix of breastfeeding and baby formula, and that it did not depend on the mother’s pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI).

The research, led by scientists from the Michigan State University in the US, found that the link between breastfeeding and obesity appeared stronger for children whose mothers were ‘obese’ before pregnancy, compared to women ‘overweight’ before becoming pregnant.

A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered ‘overweight’, while a BMI of 30 or higher is considered ‘obese’.

The team also found that each additional month of breastfeeding correlated with a significantly lower child BMI z-score, which refers to the BMI of children and adolescents.


”Our findings highlight that each additional month of breastfeeding, whether a consistent amount or exclusively, may contribute to a lower weight later in childhood, especially for mothers who had obesity before pregnancy,” said Gayle Shipp, assistant professor at Michigan State University, and lead researcher of the study published in the journal Pediatrics.

While previous research has shown breastfeeding to protect children against obesity and other chronic conditions, the researchers said that this relationship had not been studied much in women with obesity.

So they wanted to examine the link between breastfeeding women who were overweight and obese prior to pregnancy and their child’s BMI z-score between 2 and 6 years of age.

For the study, the researchers looked at BMI measurements of 8,134 pairs of mothers and kids at 21 study sites in 16 US states and Puerto Rico. The researchers calculated BMI and BMIz scores from measurements taken at study visits, medical records, or self-reported data for the mother and child.

The researchers examined two different breastfeeding situations: children who received any breastfeeding in three months or received and children who received exclusive breastfeeding for three months.

The first measure includes allowing for baby formula or other food apart from breastfeeding and the second refers to breastfeeding with no formula feeding or other food, the team explained.

”Health professionals can use this study’s findings as an opportunity to encourage and promote breastfeeding among all women, especially those who have obesity,” said Shipp.


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