Infant Feeding and Blood Cholesterol: A Study in Adolescents and a Systematic Review

Owen, C.G. et al. American Academy of Pediatrics



    More and more research is indicating that breastfeeding may have long-term benefits for cardiovascular health. This UK-based study examined the impact of infant feeding on serum, total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.


    Researchers studied more than 1,500 adolescents in 10 British towns, and reviewed studies of cholesterol levels in infants, children, adolescents and adults, comparing those who were breastfed to those formula-fed. Their findings suggest that having been breastfed is linked with different effects on cholesterol at different stages of life as compared to having been formula-fed. Those breastfed had higher levels of cholesterol during infancy, but no relationship was found between infant feeding pattern and cholesterol in later childhood and  adolescence. However, cholesterol levels were found to be lower in adults who had been breastfed.


     The research suggests that early exposure to breast milk may program fat metabolism in later life, resulting in lower blood cholesterol levels and thus a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.


     Infant formulas contain no cholesterol and may thus limit the infantís ability to handle cholesterol in later life.




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