Contact: Renee Cree
Temple researchers look for behavioral link between breastfeeding and lower risk of obesity
Breastfeeding has a number of
positive health benefits for baby: it can prevent ear infections and
allergies, and lowers the risk of developing respiratory problems. It
can also help prevent against obesity later in life, but the reason for
this still isn't known.
In an effort to find this link,
Katherine F. Isselmann, M.P.H., a doctoral candidate in Temple's
department of public health, has been comparing the feeding habits of
mothers who breastfed their babies and mothers who bottle fed their
babies, and has also examined the eating habits of their pre-school
In preliminary research presented at this
year's American Public Health Association annual meeting on Oct. 28,
Isselmann and faculty members in the department of public health at the
College of Health Professions surveyed more than 120 mothers on whether
they had breastfed or bottle-fed their babies, using either pumped
breast milk or formula.
They found breastfed children could
more easily determine when they were full. Children who were bottle-fed
with pumped breast milk were less likely to respond to the feeling of
being full by the time they were preschool-aged. Also, children who had
a lower response to fullness had a higher body mass index (BMI).
to Isselmann, these results suggest a behavioral link between
breastfeeding and obesity prevention, in that children who are
breastfed grow to have more positive eating behaviors, which could help
prevent obesity later in life.
"Mothers who bottle feed often
focus on a set amount of ounces per day or time schedule for feeding,"
said Isselmann. "This could lead mothers to rely more on the bottle for
feedback than on the infant's cues of fullness and hunger."
says with breast-feeding, the ability to measure in ounces how much a
baby has eaten isn't there, so mothers can become more in tune with
when their babies are done eating and babies are able to develop their
own internal cues to signal when they feel full.
women may choose not to breastfeed, Isselmann says it's important to
encourage mothers who bottle-feed to adopt more infant-focused feeding
habits exhibited by mothers who breastfeed.
"The theory of
'x ounces per day' isn't set in stone for growing babies. Some days
they may need more food, other days they may need less," said
authors on this study are Bradley Collins, Ph.D., Deborah Nelson, Ph.D,
and Brian Daly, Ph.D., of the department of public health at Temple