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Infant formula can lead to childhood obesity, study shows

Sep
21

Date: September 21st, 2018

What Your Child Eats Affects Later Weight

Mothers who prefer feeding their children on formula rather than breastfeeding them may be placed on high alert with this new study. According to the research, babies who had been breastfed were found to have a different bacterial environment in their guts compared to those who relied on formula.

Past studies have already proven that obesity begins at an early age and that breast milk is one of the healthiest sources of ingredients for your little one. Children who are breastfed tend to have a lower risk of obesity in adulthood.

Breast Milk – Specialized Food

The research lead author, Dr. Meghan Azad, explained that is a specialized food that is relied on by both the babies and also the bacteria in their gut. “There is a component in breast milk referred to as oligosaccharides, which is essentially complex sugars on which gut bacteria specifically feed on,” explains the assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics & Child Health and Community Health Sciences.

The progression of this study is based on the theory that when babies have “good” bacteria in their guts, fats will be burned and stored favorably and also used appropriately as a source of energy.

Whatever happens to your fats determine whether you will develop obesity. It is crucial that they are burned in large quantities and also be used as a source of energy.

The study has been published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

How the Study was done

To conduct this study, the researchers in Canada obtained data from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD), subjecting the more than 1,000 infants’ data to detailed analysis.

The main goal was to determine whether breast milk alone or breast milk and another food or feeding on a formula determined the type of bacteria found in the infant’s gut at the ages of 3-4 months and 12 months.

Mothers were asked whether they breastfed their baby of formula and other complementary foods. Factors such as birth weight, infant sex, maternal smoking status, and pet ownership, and race, level of education, pregnancy body mass index, and pregnancy diet were looked at.

Majority of the research mothers were white and had delivered vaginally (seen to be good for the infant’s digestive system). 40% of them were either obese or overweight.

Research Findings

The research found out that helpful bacteria were prevalent in babies who had been breastfed for as long as 12 months and low in those who had never been breastfed at 12 months.

An important message from this study is that mothers do not have to be perfect and exclusively feed their baby on breast milk. Instead, they can gradually introduce other foods at different stages as directed by the doctor.

The study further shows that formula feeding causes changes to the gut microbes which may trigger the baby’s ability to be overweight. However, you have to understand that it is not just the formula which can lead to your baby becoming obese.

The difference in the feeding process for formula and breastfeeding also matters.

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