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Breast-Feeding Protects Against Obesity in Children of Diabetic, Overweight Mothers

Posted: Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Breast-feeding is inversely associated with the risk of childhood obesity regardless of maternal diabetes status or weight status.

"Previously, a protective, dose-dependent effect of breast-feeding to reduce the risk of overweight in adolescents was reported ... from a study of the offspring of participants in the Nurses' Health Study II," Dr. Elizabeth J. Mayer-Davis, of the University of South Carolina, Columbia, and colleagues write. In the current study, the team examined whether the beneficial effect is attenuated by maternal diabetes or weight status.

The 15,253 subjects had a mean age of 11.9 years. Overall, 13.4% were at risk for overweight and 6.7% were overweight. The investigators report that 56.4% of the mothers of these subjects were non-diabetic and normal weight, 40.5% were non-diabetic and overweight, and 3.1% were diabetic (preexisting diabetes or gestational diabetes).

After adjusting for age, sex, and Tanner stage, exclusive breast-feeding was associated with a reduced likelihood of overweight in childhood compared to exclusive formula-feeding (odds ratio 0.66). The relative risk did not differ according to maternal status (OR 0.73 for non-diabetes/normal weight; OR 0.75 for non-diabetes/overweight; OR 0.62 for diabetes).

The results were attenuated after further adjustment for potential confounders. However, results remained consistent across strata of maternal status.

"It is possible that the beneficial effects of breast-feeding may contribute to breaking the cycle of overweight and diabetes, which may occur among offspring of diabetic mothers," Dr. Mayer-Davis and colleagues conclude.


Source: Diabetes In Control: Diabetes Care 2006;29:2231-2237

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