Weight gain during the first week of life in babies who are fed formula may be a critical factor in the development of obesity later in life, according to study reported in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.
In a study of 635 white adults ages 20 to 32, researchers at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the University of Iowa found that weight gain during the first week of life in healthy, formula-fed infants was associated with overweight status two to three decades later.
These results contribute to the understanding of the physiology of chronic disease programming during brief periods early in life and point to new potential targets for obesity prevention, specifically interventions regarding the feeding of newborns, according to the study’s authors.
The study also supports the recommendation that mothers breastfeed their infants, since breastfed babies are less likely to be overweight. Currently, about two out of three mothers breastfeed their newborns, but fewer than one in three moms are still breastfeeding their babies at 6 months of age. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months and continued breastfeeding through the first year of life.