Study: Infant formula may impact future weight gain

When it comes to feeding baby, every parent wants what’s best for their child.

Now, a recent study suggests that what a baby eats in their first year of life could have an impact on their weight down the road.

The study looked at 1,087 infants and followed them over a year.

The infants were divided into three groups – those who were exclusively breastfed, those who did a combination of breastfeeding and formula, and those who were exclusively formula fed.

Eva Kubiczek-Love, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic Children’s did not take part in the study, but said the differences in weight between babies who were breastfed and formula fed were evident after one year.

“Children who were exclusively breastfed tended to have less obesity at a year of life, while those children who were breastfed and formula fed and those children that were exclusively formula fed tended to have a greater weight-for-length ratio at one year of life.”

In addition to the weight-for-length differences at one year old, researchers also discovered that the infants who only drank formula had different gut bacteria than those who were exclusively breastfed.

Dr. Kubiczek-Love said breast milk contains both pre and probiotics, which suppress the growth of certain types of bacteria and promotes the growth of others, possibly providing a protective effect against becoming overweight.

She said this study adds to what experts already know about breastfeeding and its many benefits to growing babies.

“We know that breastfeeding, over the lifespan of a child, can be beneficial in so many ways,” said Dr. Kubiczek-Love. “In the newborn period it can result in less infections and both in teenage years and in adulthood, it can reduce the prevalence of many chronic medical conditions such as juvenile diabetes and ulcerative colitis.”

Dr. Kubiczek-Love said breastfeeding can be a real challenge for new moms in the beginning. She recommends that women get the support they need very early on to help them on their way towards a successful breastfeeding experience.

Complete results of the study can be found in JAMA Pediatrics.