Breastfeeding Aids Children To Grow Healthy

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Parents always want the best for their children. They are also aware that the early years of life have a crucial impact on the later years, especially in terms of health and growth. Furthermore, breastfeeding has been one of the practices of mothers, knowing its benefits to their child and their mother-child bonding. In a PhD project from LIFE, it has been revealed by the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Copenhagen that a different growth pattern is followed by breastfed children compared to the non-breastfed ones. Breastfeeding is responsible in reducing the blood levels of the growth hormones IG-I and insulin. This can lead to a slightly slower growth and lower chance of being overweight and diabetic in the later years.

The PhD project is a component of SKOT, which is a large-scale Danish investigation of small children, diet and well-being. SKOT has monitored and studied 330 healthy children at 9, 18 and 36 months. Moreover, this aims to augment the body of knowledge regarding the food taken in by Danish children in the significant transition from breastmilk or formula to solid food. This is a critical phase, since the child’s diet during this time is an important   determinant whether the child will grow healthy or probably at risk for development of lifestyle diseases in the future years.

According to LIFE PhD Anja Lykke Madsen (who has collected the initial results of the SKOT study in her PhD project), they have observed that breastfeeding has an essential, measurable impact on the important growth regulators found in the blood—IGF-I and insulin. She added that hormone levels will decrease if the child will be breastfed more; this implies that the child has a somewhat reduced risk of being overweight in later childhood years. Also, a correlation has been determined between the length of breastfeeding and their weight at 18 months.

Furthermore, LIFE Professor Kim Fleischer Michaelsen, the SKOT project head, explained how relevant knowledge regarding the factors influencing the early onset of obesity has been gained from their study. It is already clear that breastfeeding has an effect on optimal growth pattern, due to its ability to lessen the risk of lifestyle diseases in later life. Nonetheless, according to Professor Michaelsen, the new SKOT findings demonstrate that breastfeeding has effects the IGF-I and insulin levels at 9 months, when the children are already capable of eating solids. Importantly, he stated that the longer the child was breastfed, the lower his weight at the 18th month.

Additionally, it was shown in the study that longer sleeping hours of children lead to smaller waist circumferences. Also, the children of mothers who had less weight gain during pregnancy tend to have less layer of subcutaneous fat, compared to those children with mothers who gained more weight. In conclusion, Kim Michaelsen emphasized how necessary it is to follow up and continue checking on the children, so that the long-term effects will be ascertained, while correlations in other researches are also considered.




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