(MENAFN - The Peninsula) QNA Ottawa: Babies who were breastfed, even for a few days, had lower blood pressure as toddlers and these differences in blood pressure may translate into improved heart and vascular health as adults, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, an open access journal of the American Heart Association.
The research has found that cardiovascular disease risk factors, including high blood pressure, can start in childhood. Studies have also confirmed breastfeeding is associated with lower cardiovascular disease risk in adulthood. However, the amount and length of time breastfeeding that is needed to achieve cardiovascular benefit has not been clear.
"This is the first study to evaluate the association of breastfeeding in the first days of life and blood pressure in early childhood," said lead study author Kozeta Miliku, M.D., Ph.D., clinical science officer of the CHILD Cohort Study and post-doctoral fellow in medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. "Infants who received even a relatively small amount of their mother's early breast milk, also known as colostrum, had lower blood pressure at 3 years of age, regardless of how long they were breastfed or when they received other complementary foods."
Colostrum is known to be especially rich in growth factors, immunologic components and stem cells that are extremely beneficial to newborns and only found in human breastmilk.
Researchers used data from the ongoing Canadian CHILD Cohort Study, a study of over 3,000 children who were born between 2009-2012 and have been followed ever since to understand how early life experiences shape health and development. They analyzed infant feeding information collected from hospital records and caregiver questionnaires for nearly 2,400 children.
"The benefits of sustained and exclusive breastfeeding are well documented for numerous health conditions, including respiratory infections and diarrheal disease during infancy, and chronic conditions including asthma and obesity later in life," said senior study author Meghan B. Azad, Ph.D., deputy director of the CHILD Cohort Study, associate professor of pediatrics and child health at the University of Manitoba, and research scientist at the Children's Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada.
"Our study suggests that for cardiovascular outcomes such as blood pressure, even a brief period of breastfeeding is beneficial. This points to colostrum as a key factor in shaping developmental processes during the newborn period. For many reasons, sustained breastfeeding should be strongly supported, and it is also important to understand that 'every drop count,' especially in those critical first few days of life", she Explained.
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