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Breastfeeding better for babies' weight gain than pumping, new study says

Research has already shown a link between breast...

Posted: Sep 24, 2018 11:25 AM
Updated: Sep 24, 2018 11:25 AM

Research has already shown a link between breastfeeding and lower obesity risk for babies. But a new study finds another association: "Breast is best" for them even compared with giving babies breast milk out of the bottle.

The benefits of direct breastfeeding included slower weight gain and lower BMI scores at 3 months, according to a Canadian study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

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Still, even pumped breast milk was superior to none at all, in line with past research.

"Moms who pump go through a lot of effort to do that, and I wouldn't want them to get the impression that it's not worth it. But it does raise the question of, if pumped milk is not the same or not as good, why is that? And what should we be doing to support moms better around breastfeeding if that's what they want to do?" said study author Meghan Azad, research scientist at the Children's Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba.

Of more than 2,500 infants from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development study, those with the lowest BMI scores at 12 months were those who were breastfed -- without formula -- and who started eating other foods around 5 to 6 months. (The researchers did not distinguish how infants were fed breast milk past the 3-month outcomes.)

Researchers say this could impact children's risk of becoming overweight or developing obesity down the line. The new study found that stopping breastfeeding before 6 months was linked to faster weight gain, a higher body mass index at 12 months and three times the risk of being overweight compared with exclusive breastfeeding.

"Other data has shown quite nicely that if you have an elevated (BMI) early on in life, it sets you up for childhood and then adolescent obesity later on in life," said Lars Bode, director of the Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation Mother-Milk-Infant Center of Research Excellence at the University of California San Diego.

The mechanism behind why breastfeeding could be superior to pumping is yet unclear, if indeed a causal link to BMI is ultimately found, Bode noted. Perhaps something happens to breast milk components when it is refrigerated, frozen or thawed. Perhaps the act of suckling allows babies to better control the amount they're consuming. (Study data did not test breast milk nor measure the amount consumed.)

Nevertheless, researchers say the study reinforces benefits of breast milk, and they're sending a message to policymakers about parental leave and support for breastfeeding.

In the United States, "many moms, they have to go back to work after a few weeks, so if they want to continue providing breast milk, they have to do it by pumping," said Azad.

"The United States is a member of an exclusive group of 3 nations that offer no paid maternity leave," Dr. Alison Volpe Holmes, associate professor of pediatrics at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, wrote in an editorial published in the same journal.

"This, coupled with US opposition to measures supporting breastfeeding at the 2018 World Health Assembly, does not bode well for US mothers and infants trying to derive the full health benefits of exclusive breastfeeding."

'Every feed counts'

Azad's study found that the more you breastfeed, the stronger the link to these benefits -- even if some formula is involved. She said there's a positive message for moms, not all of whom may be able to exclusively breastfeed: It's not all-or-nothing.

"Any amount is better than none. The more you can do, the better," Azad said. "Every feed counts."

In the study, just 18% of infants were exclusively breastfed by the 6-month mark, and 55% of those who were only fed breast milk received at least some in a bottle.

The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding "up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond."

There are plenty of other good reasons to breastfeed when possible, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: a lower risk of some infections, Type 2 diabetes and asthma, to name a few.

Breastfeeding "still is so much more powerful than formula-feeding," regardless of how it's fed, Bode said. "I think that message very often gets overlooked."

Azad said that pumping might not be a choice for all moms, and that the way forward isn't by putting all the pressure on moms to breastfeed.

"Putting all the onus on individual mothers is not how we're going to make progress," she said. "It's making this a bigger society issue. It's about providing support, whether that's at the family or community or policy level."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 309223

Reported Deaths: 7153
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21005250
Hinds19989411
Harrison17590303
Rankin13388277
Jackson13169243
Madison9965212
Lee9900170
Jones8319161
Forrest7554149
Lauderdale7232237
Lowndes6306144
Lamar614685
Lafayette6081118
Washington5296133
Bolivar4778130
Oktibbeha458097
Panola4461103
Pearl River4447142
Warren4310119
Marshall4302103
Pontotoc417672
Monroe4063132
Union405175
Neshoba4009176
Lincoln3892109
Hancock373785
Leflore3471124
Sunflower332090
Tate325984
Pike3226105
Scott311973
Yazoo305369
Alcorn301566
Itawamba297977
Copiah294365
Coahoma290779
Simpson290486
Tippah285368
Prentiss276659
Marion266479
Leake262473
Wayne261541
Grenada257385
Covington255380
Adams247082
Newton246161
George238947
Winston226181
Tishomingo222867
Jasper220248
Attala213673
Chickasaw205857
Holmes187272
Clay183354
Stone179733
Clarke178177
Tallahatchie176240
Calhoun165632
Yalobusha160236
Smith159734
Walthall131143
Greene129633
Lawrence126823
Noxubee126634
Montgomery125842
Perry125238
Amite121041
Carroll121026
Webster113932
Jefferson Davis105932
Tunica103425
Claiborne101430
Benton97525
Kemper95728
Humphreys94732
Franklin83123
Quitman78916
Choctaw74417
Wilkinson65329
Jefferson64928
Sharkey49817
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 522512

Reported Deaths: 10790
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson755371494
Mobile39129799
Madison34124500
Tuscaloosa25408444
Montgomery24059573
Shelby23225242
Baldwin20730302
Lee15638166
Calhoun14358311
Morgan14171273
Etowah13705348
Marshall12012220
Houston10416279
Elmore10024203
Limestone9862148
Cullman9509191
St. Clair9486236
Lauderdale9280233
DeKalb8762183
Talladega8127173
Walker7151276
Autauga6763106
Jackson6762110
Blount6532133
Colbert6236132
Coffee5436113
Dale4781111
Russell431239
Franklin421382
Chilton4130110
Covington4069115
Tallapoosa3922148
Escambia390374
Dallas3528150
Chambers3519122
Clarke347360
Marion3076100
Pike306676
Lawrence296395
Winston273272
Bibb256761
Marengo248561
Geneva246475
Pickens233259
Barbour227155
Hale218675
Butler213268
Fayette209660
Henry188444
Cherokee182744
Randolph177841
Monroe173140
Washington165538
Macon156548
Clay150255
Crenshaw149557
Cleburne147041
Lamar140034
Lowndes137353
Wilcox124727
Bullock122040
Conecuh109728
Perry107726
Sumter103332
Coosa99428
Greene91434
Choctaw58824
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A strong cold front will pass through our area this evening. This will bring some very unseasonably cold air into our area for a few days. We will see some potential for some frosty conditions for tonight and for our Wednesday night.
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