Breastfeeding is important for so many reasons.
For example, not breastfeeding increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Breastfeeding has been related to improved performance on intelligence tests.
In addition, research has clearly demonstrated that formula feeding is a risk factor for obesity.
Formula Feeding Increases A Child’s Risk Of Obesity
A new study coordinated by Professor Cristina Campoy from the department of Paediatrics at the University of Granada has provided further evidence about the importance of breastfeeding in curbing obesity.
The 175 women included in this new study were from the same group women who participated in Project PHEOBE. These women were followed through pregnancy and then postnatally for the first two years of their childrens’ lives.
So, why is it important to look at the growth of babies born to obese women?
Babies Born Large For Gestational Age Have Increased Obesity Risk
Babies who are born to obese women are at higher risk of being born large for gestational age.
Gestational diabetes and type II diabetes are risk factors for giving birth to a baby who is large for gestational age. This is because these conditions increase maternal blood sugar levels as well as insulin levels, and this increases fetal growth.
In the long term, babies born large for gestational age have an increased risk for poorer health outcomes such as diabetes, obesity etc. Fortunately, breastfeeding can help reduce these risks.
So what did this new study find?
Formula Fed Babies Born To Obese Women Gain More Weight Than Breastfed
This new research shows breastfeeding appears to help recover the health of a baby exposed in utero to the metabolic changes that occur in obese women.
This is because it was found that babies who are formula fed and born to obese women tend to gain more weight over the first six months of life as compared to breastfed babies born to obese women.
Hence, obese women who breastfeed can help reduce their babies’ risk of becoming obese.
Feeding According To Need Is Always Important
If an obese woman formula feeds her baby, the following tips can help her baby get as close as possible to the amount she needs:
- The World Health Organization growth standards can provide a helpful guide in terms of rates of growth since they are based on a breastfed population
- Feeding your baby according to her own individual need
- Using specific bottle feeding methods (e.g. paced bottle feeding)
- Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council recommends formula fed babies be given a formula with a lower protein content.
Breastfeeding helps reverse the risk of obesity in babies born to obese women. If an obese woman formula feeds, there are still things she can do to help reduce her baby’s obesity risk.