Lower BMIs in adults who were breastfed

Being breastfed as a baby is a key determinant of cardiovascular risk in adulthood.

Adults who were breastfed have higher levels of HDL cholesterol and lower BMIs than those who were bottle fed, say US researchers.

The latest finding adds further weight to the theory that infant nutrition affects later cardiovascular health. While the health benefits of breastfeeding in childhood have been reported, the effects into later adulthood are less understood.

A two-generation analysis of participants in the Framingham Heart Study focused on 393 mothers and 962 of their offspring. A reported 26 per cent of the offspring were breastfed.

Breastfed infants were 55 per cent more likely to have high HDL cholesterol, defined as 50mg/dl for men and 40mg/dl for women, than low cholesterol in adulthood.

After adjusting for potential confounding factors, adults who were breastfed as infants were found to have average HDL cholesterol levels of 56.6mg/dl, compared with 53.7mg/dl in those who were bottle fed.

Those who were breastfed were also found to have lower BMI in adulthood at 26.1, compared with 26.9 in those who were bottle fed.

'It's an important area of study because we're starting to realise that it's not going to be enough to tackle this at 40,' said lead researcher Professor Nisha Parikh, from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston, Massachusetts.

'There needs to be more studies looking at possible mechanisms underlying breastfeeding.'

rachel.liddle@haymarket.com

AHA scientific sessions 4-7 November 2007, Orlando, Florida

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