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Media Release: Mother and Baby Both Winners at the Weight Loss Game

For Immediate Release

January 4, 2006 (Schaumburg, IL) - According to a recent study which appeared in The American Journal of Epidemiology 1 the breastfed infant's risk of future overweight declines the longer breastfeeding continues. While even one month of breastfeeding reduces this risk by 4 per cent, statistical analysis of 17 original studies revealed that breastfeeding through nine months of age reduced the rate of future overweight by thirty percent.

It is not known why infants who are breastfed have this reduced risk of obesity. However, there is some speculation about the effects of nutrition on the developing areas of the brain that control appetite and body weight. It is also not clear whether the effect continues beyond the ninth month of breastfeeding since the study did not consider breastfeeding beyond this point.

Although most of the studies analyzed included infants who were only partially breastfed, it seems logical that exclusively breastfed infants might derive even greater benefits. The American Academy of Pediatrics and most health organizations worldwide recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life with continued breastfeeding along with complementary foods after this time.

Previous studies have also shown that breastfeeding mothers also return to their pre-pregnancy weight sooner than their formula feeding counterparts. It appears that breastfeeding mother and baby are both winners of the weight loss game.

La Leche League International (LLLI) is a nonprofit organization that offers information and encouragement—primarily through personal help—to those women who want to breastfeed their babies. LLLI is the world's largest resource for breastfeeding information. LLLI has a Health Advisory Council of more than 40 professionals in the areas of pediatrics, obstetrics, allergy, nutrition, psychology, family practice, and related fields. LLLI is active in 69 countries and on the worldwide web. For more information about breastfeeding, visit the LLLI web site at www.lalecheleague.org or call 1-847-519-7730.

  • 1. Harder, T. et al. Duration of Breastfeeding and Risk of Overweight: A Meta-Analysis. American Journal of Epidemiology 2005 162:397-403.
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