Do Breastfed Infants Become Leaner in Adolescence?


Researchers from the UK investigated the effects of exclusive, long-term breastfeeding on obesity and blood pressure of offspring in adolescence and found that breastfeeding in infancy did not lower the risk of obesity or high blood pressure.


Childhood obesity is a rising phenomenon worldwide. Obese children often become obese adults and may be affected by chronic diseases linked to obesity. It has been suggested that exclusive breastfeeding for a longer time may reduce adipocyte development in the offspring, decreasing the risk of obesity in adulthood and the subsequent development of chronic diseases.

The researchers published their findings on the effects of breastfeeding on the weight and blood pressure of adolescent offspring in the Journal of the American Medical Association. As part of the Promotion of Breastfeeding Intervention Trial (PROBIT) in Belarus, the researchers followed children who were either breastfed exclusively for a longer period of time, were not breastfed, or were weaned at approximately 3 months. 17046 children born between 1996 and 1997 were included in the study.

Researchers published their findings at 12 months, 6.5 and 11.5 years’ follow-up previously and found that the exclusively breastfed children showed more rapid weight and length gain than the control group through their childhood, but they did not find any connection between breastfeeding and obesity. In the current study, 13557 children were examined at a median age of 16.2 years. Researchers did not find any association between obesity and breastfeeding or blood pressure. Furthermore, being overweight or obese was more prevalent in the breastfed than in the control group.

In conclusion, exclusive, long-term breastfeeding did not decrease the risk of being overweight or obese in adolescence, but led to more rapid growth throughout childhood.


Written By: Dr. Fanni R. Eros

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