advertisement
31 May 2019

Breastfeeding moms who eat right have slimmer, healthier babies

Researchers say that breastfeeding moms who eat healthily have less of an effect on their babies' weight gain and fat accumulation, which could counter the risk factor for obesity later in life.

Breastfeeding moms with healthy eating habits have slimmer infants, who could then be protected from obesity later, researchers say.

Rapid weight gain and fat accumulation during an infant's first six months of life is a risk factor for obesity later on, they explained.

"A baby who is shooting up through the percentiles in weight-for-length during the first six months is two to three times more likely to become obese as early as adolescence," said study author Ellen Demerath, a professor of public health at the University of Minnesota.

She and her colleagues investigated the effect a nursing mother's diet has on infant growth and body fat.

It's what you put in that counts

Their study included 354 mothers who were breastfeeding exclusively. They were asked about their eating habits during pregnancy and at one and three months after giving birth.

Children of mothers who had a healthier diet at any of those points were slimmer, weighed less and had a lower body fat percentage in the first six months than those whose moms had poorer diets.

A mother's diet did not affect how much fat-free tissue, including bone and muscle, the child had, according to the study published recently in the journal Nutrients.

What's in that milk?

"This is evidence that breastfeeding mothers with high-quality diets may help their babies be slimmer and have lower-percent body fat than those who have lower-quality diets, while also supporting healthy growth in length and lean body mass. This bodes well for their risk of obesity later in life," Demerath said.

The next step is to find out what it is in breast milk that could help infants have healthy size and body composition as they grow.

That information could help mothers decide what to eat to make the most nutritious milk, according to Demerath.

About 1 in 5 kids in the United States between ages 6 and 19 is obese, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Image credit: iStock

 
NEXT ON HEALTH24X
advertisement

Live healthier

Lifestyle »

E-cigarettes: Here are five things to know

E-cigarettes have become hugely popular in the past decade, but a rash of vaping-linked deaths and illnesses in the US is feeding caution about a product that's already banned in some places.

Allergy »

Ditch the itch: Researchers find new drug to fight hives

A new drug works by targeting an immune system antibody called immunoglobulin E, which is responsible for the allergic reaction that causes hives.

advertisement