While breastfeeding has many known health benefits, latest study findings suggest that ensuring a healthy childhood weight may not be one of them.
Researchers from the University of Western Australia in Perth found that although 12-month-olds who were still being breastfed were leaner than other babies, the weight difference disappeared by the time the children were 8 years old. In addition, there was no clear association between duration of breastfeeding and a child's risk of being overweight between the ages of 1 and 8. Children who were never breastfed had similar odds of becoming overweight as those who were breastfed for 4 to 12 months.
However, it may still be possible that breastfeeding is associated with a lower weight at older ages. The current findings do not rule out previous studies that have linked breastfeeding to healthier weights in adolescence and adulthood.
Researchers are now looking at the children's weights at age 13. They are also considering the role that family and lifestyle factors have, possibly outweighing any possible effect of breastfeeding on weight gain in childhood.
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