Breastfed infants may be less likely to grow into overweight children than formula-fed babies, says a study.
Over 12.5 million children and teenagers in the US are overweight, according to government statistics. This accounts for 17.1 percent of children and teenagers aged two to 19 years, reported an online edition of health magazine WebMD.
Elizabeth J. Mayer-Davis and other researchers in the US studied 15,253 children between the ages of nine and 14 and their mothers. Roughly 6,000 of the studied mothers were overweight or obese without diabetes while 473 had diabetes.
They found that children breastfed during their first year of life were less likely to become overweight or obese than children who were not regardless of their mothers' weight or diabetic status, according to the findings published in the October issue of Diabetes Care.
Breastfed babies are less likely to grow into overweight children than those fed formula even if their mothers are obese or have diabetes, the researchers said.
Exclusively breastfed babies had roughly a 34 percent reduced risk of being overweight during childhood compared to children exclusively formula-fed, they added.
The finding suggests that breastfeeding could help break the cycle of obesity and diabetes among children born to mothers with diabetes.
"It is important for mothers who have diabetes or who are at risk for developing the disease to know that there are things they can do for their children that can make a real difference," Davis is quoted as saying.
She adds that breastfeeding appears to be an important first step for reducing a child's risk for obesity and related diseases like type two diabetes.