Breastfeeding, breast milk composition, and growth outcomes

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Breastfed infants have a growth pattern that is different from formula-fed infants, which is regarded as the optimal growth pattern. Breastfed infants increase more in weight, length, and BMI during the first 2-3 months of life and then have a slower growth velocity up to 12 months. They also have a higher accumulation of fat during early infancy. Breastfed infants have lower levels of circulating IGF-I and insulin, which could be part of the explanation of their growth pattern. Many studies and meta-analyses have examined the association between breastfeeding and later obesity. Most find a moderate reduction in the risk of later obesity, but it has been argued that this could be biased due to residual confounding and reverse causation. From studies in low- and middle-income countries randomizing women to breastfeeding promotion, there was only little effect on early growth. Recent studies have found associations between breast milk composition (total fat, protein, human milk oligosaccharides, adiponectin, leptin, and insulin) and growth. However, the studies are few, and the results are inconsistent. More studies, including studies of maternal factors influencing breast milk composition, are needed to better understand how breastfeeding influences current and later growth and thereby short- and long-term health.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRecent Research in Nutrition and Growth
EditorsJohn Colombo, Berthold Koletzko, Michelle Lampl
Number of pages15
Place of PublicationBasel
Publication date2018
ISBN (Print)978-3-318-06351-6
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-318-06352-3
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventNestlé Nutrition Institute Workshop - Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Duration: 27 Mar 201729 Mar 2017
Conference number: 89


WorkshopNestlé Nutrition Institute Workshop
LandUnited Arab Emirates
SeriesNestle Nutrition Institute Workshop Series

ID: 200338914