Breastfeeding Helps Prevent a Child's Obesity, Regardless of Mom's Weight

Breastfeeding Helps Prevent a Child's Obesity, Regardless of Mom's Weight
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Medically Reviewed By:
Dennis Thompson

Key Takeaways

  • Babies who are breastfed have a lower risk of childhood obesity

  • This risk is lower regardless of their mom’s weight prior to pregnancy

  • Babies don’t have to be exclusively breastfed to gain this benefit

MONDAY, Jan. 15, 2024 (HealthDay news) -- Babies who are breastfed during their first three months of life have a lower risk of childhood obesity, a new study shows.

Further, the longer a mom breastfeeds, the more likely it is her kid will avoid obesity as a child -- especially if she’s carrying extra weight, the researchers added.

“Our findings highlight that each additional month of breastfeeding, whether a consistent amount or exclusively, may contribute to a lower weight later in childhood, especially for mothers who had obesity before pregnancy,” said lead researcher Gayle Shipp, an assistant professor at Michigan State University.

Prior studies have shown that breastfeeding might protect children against chronic health problems, including obesity, but the relationship has not been studied much in women who are obese themselves, researchers noted in background notes.

For the study, researchers analyzed body mass index (BMI) measurements from more than 8,100 pairs of mothers and kids, taken at 21 study sites in 16 states and Puerto Rico.

BMI measurements taken for the kids at the ages of 2 and 6 were compared to both their mom’s pre-pregnancy BMI and their pattern of breastfeeding.

They found that each extra month a mom engaged in any amount of breastfeeding correlated with significantly lower child BMI, particularly for mothers who were overweight or obese prior to pregnancy.

The protective benefit appeared to be even stronger for the children of obese moms than for those with overweight moms, researchers report.

The study was published recently in the journal Pediatrics.

“Health professionals can use this study’s findings as an opportunity to encourage and promote breastfeeding among all women, especially those who have obesity,” Shipp said in a journal news release.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about the benefits of breastfeeding.

SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics, news release, Jan. 11, 2024

What This Means For You

Breastfeeding might help protect a baby against future childhood obesity, regardless of a mom’s weight.

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