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Jul 30, 2014 04:20 PM EDT

BreastFeeding May Lower Risk of Chronic Inflammation Associated With Cardiovascular, Metabolic Diseases in Child


A baby's birthweight and whether or not their being breastfed may have implications for their health decades later, according to a recent study.

Researchers from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis found that young adults who were breastfed for three months or more as babies have a significantly lower risk of chronic inflammation associated with cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

"This study shows that birthweight and breastfeeding both have implications for children's health decades later," said Molly W. Metzger, co-author of the study. "Specifically, we are looking at the effects of these early factors on later levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a biomarker associated with risk for cardiovascular and metabolic disease."

For the study, researchers analyzed data from the U.S. National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, including parent surveys, and blood samples providing measurements of CRP.

Researchers said the findings held up in a series of sibling models, in which one sibling was breastfed and the other was not. Such models provide improved confidence in the results by implicitly controlling for genetic factors for elevated CRP.

"These findings underscore the importance of a preventive approach, including but not limited to prenatal health care and postnatal breastfeeding support," Metzger said. "And we know that insured women receive less prenatal care than insured women. So here in Missouri and elsewhere, expanding Medicaid eligibility would be one clear step in the right direction."

The findings were recently published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

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