The universal fact is that breastfeeding is the best form of nutrition for the child. But the questions whether breastfeeding or the weaning age affect the risk of obesity in early childhood is being raised at various platforms.
A new study on this aspect has found that a child's fat at age five is not related to being breastfed or the age in infancy when other foods are introduced. The study appears in the March issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The link between infant feeding and fatness during early childhood was studied by researchers from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Cincinnati Children's Hospital. They used for the first time the technique called dual-energy X-ray absorpiometry (DXA) to measure adiposity, or body fatness. Earlier studies relied on BMI as an indicator.
Justifying the measurement Hillary Burdette, M.D., nutrition specialist at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and lead investigator of the study said, "DXA measures the amount of fat tissue more directly than BMI. With the rising prevalence of childhood obesity, interest has increased in determining whether breastfeeding or the delayed introduction of complementary foods - or both - can reduce the risk of later obesity. We found no such effect."
Analysis based on the body composition, particularly the fat tissue, of 313 Caucasian and African American five-year-old children was made. Information on breastfeeding, infant formula use and the timing of the introduction of complementary foods from the children's mothers when the children were three years old was gathered already.
The research team found no significant difference in fat mass between children that were ever breastfed and those never breastfed. Children who were breastfed for a longer duration and those who were breastfed without concurrent formula feeding did not have significantly lower fat mass than did those children who were never breastfed. Children also did not differ if they were introduced to complementary foods before or after four months of age.
But the researchers in no way claim to delay or discourage the use of breastfeeding as a feeding method.