Breastfeeding is not strongly linked to later eating behaviors

  • Pang WW & al.
  • Appetite
  • 06.03.2020

  • von Emily Willingham, PhD
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • Early breastfeeding does not show much association with a child’s later feeding habits, although it might be linked to less food fussiness.

Why this matters

  • Some studies had suggested that breastfeeding might have consistent effects on a child’s later feeding behaviors.

Key results

  • Children in this study tended to have low or intermediate breastfeeding exposure (87.8%), with only 12.2% having high exposure.
  • With adjustment, compared with the low-breastfeeding group, high-breastfeeding children had less food fussiness at ages 3 years (significant) and 6 years (not significant).
  • Children in the high-breastfeeding group were also easier to feed at age 3 years vs their low-breastfeeding counterparts.
  • No other factors or behaviors, including maternal concerns about overeating or overweight or the amount or bite sizes for the child, were associated with breastfeeding exposure.

Study design

  • Study of 970 children in Singapore, grouped by breastfeeding exposure.
    • High: full breastfeeding for ≥4 months with continued breastfeeding ≥6 months.
    • Low: any breastfeeding 
    • Intermediate: in between the above.
  • Eating behaviors reported in questionnaires or determined in laboratory measures.
  • Funding: Singapore National Research Foundation.

Limitations

  • Direction of identified associations is not known.
  • Not all children and mothers were represented in all measures.
  • Findings might not translate to populations with different ethnic makeup.