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Even Limited Breastfeeding May Lower Child Blood Pressure

No significant dose-response association seen for breastfed children according to duration or exclusivity of breastfeeding

breastfeeding and stroke risk

WEDNESDAY, July 21, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Any breastfeeding, including early limited breastfeeding, is associated with lower blood pressure at age 3 years, according to a study published online July 21 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Noting that breastfeeding in infancy is associated with lower cardiovascular risk in adulthood, Kozeta Miliku, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, and colleagues analyzed 2,382 children with complete data on early-life feeding and blood pressure to examine the amount of breastfeeding needed to achieve this benefit. Blood pressure was measured at age 3 years.

The researchers found that 97.9 percent of the children were ever breastfed, including 4.2 percent who briefly received breast milk during their birth hospitalization (early limited breastfeeding). At age 3 years, children who were never breastfed had higher blood pressure than those who were ever breastfed (mean systolic/diastolic, 103/60 versus 99/58 mm Hg), including those who received only early limited breastfeeding (99/57 mm Hg). In adjusted models, these differences in systolic blood pressure persisted (ever breastfed, −3.47 mm Hg; early limited breastfeeding, −4.24 mm Hg). No significant dose-response association was seen among breastfed children according to the duration or exclusivity of breastfeeding. Child body mass index did not mediate the associations.

"Our study suggests that for cardiovascular outcomes such as blood pressure, even a brief period of breastfeeding is beneficial," a coauthor said in a statement. "This points to colostrum as a key factor in shaping developmental processes during the newborn period."

One author disclosed financial ties to the nutrition industry, including infant feeding.

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