Breastfed Babies Have Lower BMI Than Formula-Fed Infants

What you need to know about the link between breastfeeding and the BMI
When it comes to ensuring that your child has a healthy weight, breasts may be the best to feed them when they are babies.

That is the finding of a study published today that examined the relationship between infant feeding practices and weight gain during the first year of life.

The researchers found that breastfeeding was associated with a lower body mass index and also with a reduced risk of excessive weight gain in the first year of the baby’s life.

The benefits of breastfeeding in the BMI of babies have been well established, but this study is the first to discover that the duration of breastfeeding makes a difference.

“The beneficial effect of breastfeeding is stronger with more prolonged and exclusive breastfeeding, which means that it is better than none and that every food counts,” Meghan Azad, PhD, lead author of the study and a scientific researcher at Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba, told Healthline.

“I think this is a positive and important message for moms. I was surprised to discover that the feeding method with breast milk is important: our results show that feeding with breast milk from a bottle is not equivalent to direct feeding with breast milk (although it was still superior to the feeding formula). Very few studies make this distinction: it is an important finding that raises new questions for future research, “he said.

Azad and his colleagues studied 2,553 babies between 2009 and 2012. Ninety-seven percent started breastfeeding, and the average duration of breastfeeding was 11 months. Seventy-four percent of babies received solids before six months.

Babies who were partially breastfed, given a bit of expressed breast milk, or who received formula exclusively had a higher BMI at three months of age than babies who were breastfed directly directly.

It was found that the benefits of breast milk differed between breast milk delivered directly from the breast and milk expressed and given in a bottle. Azad says that this was a surprising find.

“There are several possible reasons. First, the bioactive components of breast milk could degrade during the routine steps between pumping and breastfeeding, that is, pumping, freezing and thawing, “said Azad.

“Second, breastfeeding can promote better self-regulation because breastfed babies learn to stop breastfeeding when they are full, while bottle-fed babies, regardless of what is in the bottle, are often recommends emptying the bottle and not Regulating your own milk intake. ”

Azad said that over time this could make it difficult for babies to regulate the amount of food they eat when they are hungry.

“This could lead to poor self-regulation and increased weight gain even after weaning,” Azad explained. “Feeding the breast also promotes the bond between mother and baby, which has important health and psychosocial benefits.”

Rising obesity numbers

In the United States, the number of children and adolescents with obesity has tripled since the 1970s. One in three children is overweight or obese, and Azad says that most of them are already overweight before entering preschool.

“It is clear that strategies to prevent obesity should be focused very early in life,” he said.

Dr. Joan Younger Meek, president of the Breastfeeding Section of the American Academy of Pediatrics, says that breastfeeding can be part of a useful foundation for the healthy development of a baby.

“There is no doubt that breast milk is more beneficial to the health and overall development of a child than the formula,” he said.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization unequivocally state that exclusive breastfeeding is preferred during the first 6 months of life, with continuous breastfeeding after the introduction of complementary solids for at least one year (AAP) or for at least two years. (WHO). ”

Meek noted that infant formula may be a useful alternative to breast milk, but it is not equivalent.

“There are many protective factors, factors that promote growth, hormones and even whole cells in human milk that are not found in infant formula,” he told Healthline.

Breastfeeding not only helps babies develop the ability to feed themselves when they feel hungry and stop feeding them when they are full, but they can also help with cognitive development and play an important role in a healthy intestine.

Options for moms who can’t or don’t want to breastfeed

Dr. Jaime Friedman, pediatrician of the California Primary Health Care Group, says that the decision to breastfeed or use a formula is a personal decision that can be influenced by several factors and that women who do not breastfeed can take action. to ensure that your child is healthy.

For mothers who can not breastfeed, she says it is important not to overfeed.

“It makes sense that waiting for a baby to finish a bottle, regardless of its content, can lead to overfeeding compared to allowing them to decide when they end up in the breast without knowing how much they have taken,” she said.

Friedman said new mothers can take clear steps to keep their child healthy, whether or not they decide to breastfeed.

“New mothers have enough to worry about, many already feel sad or guilty if they can not breastfeed,” she said. “The important thing is to avoid overfeeding or encourage a baby to finish a bottle if he is not hungry.”


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