Birth weight and breastfeeding

23 April 2014        

Woman and child

Higher birth weights and longer periods of breastfeeding in infancy could protect children’s hearts as they grow up, research has suggested.

A large US study looked at levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which is linked to increased cardiovascular risk.

Birth weight was significantly associated with CRP levels in young adulthood, with those weighing 2.8 kilograms and above at birth having lower CRP concentration.

CRP levels were also linked to breastfeeding, with those breastfed for 3-6 months and for 6-12 months having 26.7 per cent and 29.6 per cent lower levels respectively.

Our Senior Cardiac Nurse, Julie Ward, said: “Previous studies have shown a link between low birth weight and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in later life.

“This study goes further by suggesting that the longer you breastfeed your baby the healthier your child will be in later life. This supports current NHS guidelines, which advocate breastfeeding for the first six months before combining breast milk with more solid foods.

“However, parents of smaller babies and mothers unable to breastfeed should not worry about things they can’t control. By teaching children about healthy eating and making physical activity fun from a young age you can inspire healthy habits to protect their hearts as they grow up.” 

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