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BMJ. 2003 Oct 18;327(7420):901.

Anthropometry and body composition of 18 year old men according to duration of breast feeding: birth cohort study from Brazil.

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  • 1Post-Graduate Programme in Epidemiology, Universidade Federal de Pelotas, CP 464, 96001-970, Pelotas, RS, Brazil. cvictora@terra.com.br

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To assess the association between duration of breast feeding and measures of adiposity in adolescence.

DESIGN:

Population based birth cohort study.

SETTING:

Pelotas, a city of 320 000 inhabitants in a relatively developed area in southern Brazil.

PARTICIPANTS:

All newborn infants in the city's hospitals were enrolled in 1982; 78.8% (2250) of all male participants were located at age 18 years when enrolling in the national army.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Weight, height, sitting height, subscapular and triceps skinfolds, and body composition (body fat, lean mass).

RESULTS:

Neither the duration of total breast feeding nor that of predominant breast feeding (breast milk plus non-nutritive fluids) showed consistent associations with anthropometric or body composition indices. After adjustment for confounding factors, the only significant associations were a greater than 50% reduction in obesity among participants breast fed for three to five months compared with all other breastfeeding categories (P = 0.007) and a linear decreasing trend in obesity with increasing duration of predominant breast feeding (P = 0.03). Similar significant effects were not observed for other measures of adiposity. Borderline direct associations also occurred between total duration of breast feeding and adult height (P = 0.06).

CONCLUSIONS:

The significant reduction in obesity among children breast fed for three to five months is difficult to interpret, as no a priori hypothesis existed regarding a protective effect of intermediate duration of breast feeding. The findings indicate that, in this population, breast feeding has no marked protective effect against adolescent adiposity.

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