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PLoS One. 2011 Apr 27;6(4):e19068. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0019068.

Infant milk feeding influences adult bone health: a prospective study from birth to 32 years.

Author information

1
Children's Hospital, Helsinki University Central Hospital and University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland. satu.pirila@hus.fi

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Peak bone mass, attained by early adulthood, is influenced by genetic and life-style factors. Early infant feeding and duration of breastfeeding in particular, associate with several health-related parameters in childhood. The aim of this study was to examine whether the effects of early infant feeding extend to peak bone mass and other bone health characteristics at adult age.

METHODS AND FINDINGS:

A cohort of 158 adults (76 males) born in Helsinki, Finland, 1975, prospectively followed up from birth, underwent physical examination and bone densitometry to study bone area, bone mineral content (BMC), and bone mineral density (BMD) at 32 years of age. Life-style factors relevant for bone health were recorded. For data analysis the cohort was divided into three equal-size groups according to the total duration of breastfeeding (BF): Short (≤3 months), Intermediate and Prolonged (≥7 months) BF groups. In males short BF is associated with higher bone area, BMC, and BMD compared to longer BF. Males in the Short BF group had on average 4.7% higher whole body BMD than males in the Prolonged BF group. In multivariate analysis, after controlling for multiple confounding factors, the influence of BF duration on adult bone characteristics persisted in males. Differences between the three feeding groups were observed in lumbar spine bone area and BMC, and whole body BMD (MANCOVA; p = 0.025, p = 0.013, and p = 0.048, respectively), favoring the Short BF group. In women no differences were observed.

CONCLUSIONS:

In men, early infant milk feeding may have a significant impact on adult bone health. A potential explanation is that the calcium and phosphate contents were strikingly higher in formula milk and commercial cow milk/cow milk dilutions as opposed to human milk. Our novel finding merits further studies to determine means to ensure optimal bone mass development in infants with prolonged breastfeeding.

PMID:
21556368
PMCID:
PMC3083426
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0019068
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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