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Mothers’ Breast Milk Content May Affect Child’s Obesity Risk!

Posted Aug 24 2008 9:46pm

Because of favorite findings from numerous past studies, most health experts have supported the idea of breast-feeding and recommended mothers to carry out breast-feeding for their babies. However, a new German study reported that the contents of mothers’ breast milk might somehow determine whether their children may become obese later.

Researchers from The German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg found that a child’s likelihood of being overweight by the age of 2 rose with the amount of adiponectin in his or her mother’s milk.

In order to investigate how breast-feeding might affect obesity risk, the researchers looked at adiponectin and another protein secreted by fat cells, known as leptin, which regulates appetite and the body’s use of energy from food. Adiponectin is involved in metabolism of fats and sugars. The fetus and placenta produce both proteins at high levels making the researchers to believe that there is high possibility that they play a role in fetal development.

The levels of both proteins were measured in the breast milk of the mothers of 674 children when the infants were 6 weeks old. Among the children who were breast-fed for at least 6 months, obesity risk rose with the adiponectin levels in breast milk. Nevertheless, the leptin levels did not show any association with whether or not a child would be overweight.

Based on the data obtained, the researchers concluded that the possible protective effect of breast-feeding against childhood obesity might depend, at least partly, on the low levels of breast milk adiponectin.

According to other health experts, the significance of these findings remains unclear. This is because infants may not be able to absorb the adiponectin contained in breast milk. Furthermore, high levels of adiponectin in adults actually reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, which contradicts to the fact that high levels would contribute to excess weight in children.

While there are still controversies on whether nursing does protect children from becoming overweight, the researchers do agreed that further study is required to determine the health implications of the research. Interestingly, they also maintain the advice that all women should try their best to breast-feed their children for at least 12 months, with the first 4 to 6 months consisting of exclusive breast-feeding.
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