British Journal of Nutrition

Behaviour, Appetite and Obesity

Breast-feeding and growth in children until the age of 3 years: the Generation R Study

Büşra Durmuşa1a2a3, Lenie van Rossema1a4, Liesbeth Duijtsa2a3, Lidia R. Arendsa5a6, Hein Raata4, Henriëtte A. Molla2, Albert Hofmana3, Eric A. P. Steegersa7 and Vincent W. V. Jaddoea1a2a3 c1

a1 The Generation R Study Group (AE-006), Erasmus Medical Center, PO Box 2040, 3000 CA, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

a2 Department of Pediatrics, Erasmus Medical Center, PO Box 2040, 3000 CA, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

a3 Department of Epidemiology, Erasmus Medical Center, PO Box 2040, 3000 CA, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

a4 Department of Public Health, Erasmus Medical Center, PO Box 2040, 3000 CA, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

a5 Institute of Psychology, Erasmus University, PO Box 1738, 3000 DR, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

a6 Department of Biostatistics, Erasmus Medical Center, PO Box 2040, 3000 CA, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

a7 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Erasmus Medical Center, PO Box 2040, 3000 CA, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Abstract

Breast-feeding has been suggested to be associated with lower risks of obesity in older children and adults. We assessed whether the duration and exclusiveness of breast-feeding are associated with early postnatal growth rates and the risks of overweight and obesity in preschool children. The present study was embedded in a population-based prospective cohort study from early fetal life onwards, among 5047 children and their mothers in The Netherlands. Compared with children who were breast-fed, those who were never breast-fed had a lower weight at birth (difference 134 (95 % CI − 190, − 77) g). No associations between breast-feeding duration and exclusivity with growth rates before the age of 3 months were observed. Shorter breast-feeding duration was associated with an increased gain in age- and sex-adjusted standard deviation scores for length, weight and BMI (P for trend < 0·05) between 3 and 6 months of age. Similar tendencies were observed for the associations of breast-feeding exclusivity with change in length, weight and BMI. Breast-feeding duration and exclusivity were not consistently associated with the risks of overweight and obesity at the ages of 1, 2 and 3 years. In conclusion, shorter breast-feeding duration and exclusivity during the first 6 months tended to be associated with increased growth rates for length, weight and BMI between the age of 3 and 6 months but not with the risks of overweight and obesity until the age of 3 years.

(Received March 31 2010)

(Revised November 25 2010)

(Accepted November 26 2010)

(Online publication January 31 2011)

Correspondence:

c1 Corresponding author: Dr V. W. V. Jaddoe, email v.jaddoe@erasmusmc.nl

Footnotes

Abbreviation: SDS, standard deviation score

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