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Apr 24, 2014 11:51 AM EDT

Bottle-Fed Babies May Have Higher Risk Of Disability, Heart Disease

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Babies who are bottle-fed may have a greater risk of suffering chronic inflammation as adults, which can lead to severe disability or early death, according to a recent study the Huffington Post reported.

Researchers found that shorter breastfeeding duration in a baby's early life led to an increase in the inflammation blood marker C-reactive protein (CRP), the Huffington Post reported. The protein is created by the liver and levels increase when a person suffers from inflammation.

"Each pound of additional birth weight predicted a CRP concentration that was five per cent lower," researchers said in a statement from Northwestern University. "Three to 12 months of breastfeeding predicted CRP levels that were 20 to 30 percent lower compared with individuals who were not breastfed."

For the study, researchers collected data and blood samples from almost 7,000 people between the ages of 24-to-32-year-olds. They found a significant association between birth weight or duration of breastfeeding and higher levels of CRP.

Based on the findings, babies that had been breastfed for at least three months were found to have 20 percent lower levels of CRP than those that had been bottle-fed since birth. Researchers said six months of breastfeeding saw CRP levels fall by 26.7 percent, while those breastfed for at least a year were found to have nearly 30 percent lower levels of CRP.

"The results suggest that breastfeeding may reduce a major risk factor for heart disease well into adulthood," Alan Guttmacher, director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, told the Huffington Post.

Researcher Thomas McDade said that to deny an infant breastfeeding is to "increase the risk for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases."

"Efforts to improve birth outcomes, and to increase the initiation and duration of breastfeeding in accordance with current recommendations, may reduce levels of chronic inflammation in adulthood and lower risk for chronic degenerative diseases of aging," McDade said.

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