Breastfed babies are less likely to develop cardiovascular disease risk factors later in life than bottlefed babies, researchers reveal.
The study found that middle-aged adults who were breastfed were twice as likely to have high rather than low levels of good high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL).
Participants who were breastfed also had higher average HDL cholesterol levels in adulthood than bottlefed participants.
Breastfeeding also seemed to significantly lower mean body mass indexes in adulthood and had less risk of becoming overweight and at risk of cardiovascular disease.
Study author Nichsa Parikh at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, USA, said: “Having been breastfed in infancy is associated with a lower average body mass index (BMI) and a higher average good cholesterol level in adulthood, even after accounting for personal and maternal demographic CVD risk factors that could influence the results.”
While others studies have hinted at the protective effects of breastfeeding against CVD risk factors in adulthood, they were often biased and not fully adjusted.
“The findings show that early environmental exposure have long-term health effects,” said Parikh.
“They also underscore that atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease are life-course diseases that have their roots early in life.”