Breastfeeding, Formula Feeding, and a Child’s Weight

Scale Surprise
Creative Commons License photo credit: P i c t u r e Y o u t h

One of the areas of discussion surrounding formula feeding vs. breastfeeding has been the issue of weight. Specifically, there have been suggestions on both sides that propose that the other is more likely to lead to weight gain for infants, as well as later in life. According to a new study out of Germany, however, bottle feeding doesn’t seem to be that much different than breastfeeding in terms of weight gain.

The study showed that children who were formula-fed for the first several months gained the same amount of weight as breastfed children all the way up through the age of 10.

In addition, this study puts to rest some fears that some have had about formula leading to problems later on with fully developing and growing.

It also suggests that, what kinds of things a child eats after the first year probably has a lot more to do with their long-term weight than whether they’re bottle fed or breastfed.

Infants in the study were given either one of four specific types of formula or breastfed. The study also looked at the issue of allergies later on in life.

Of the 1,800 plus infants in the study, about half returned at the age of 10 to complete the research. There was no statistical difference in the children’s body mass index (BMI) between children fed on any of the various formulas and the breastfed children.

Interestingly enough, one of the formulas did see a reduction in weight gain during the first year. Researchers attribute this to a formula that likely smelled and tasted bad. Yet, even the children who were fed this formula tended to catch up with their peers, and by the age of 10 there was no discernible difference in terms of weight.

This research, of course, doesn’t suggest that there aren’t benefits to breastfeeding; rather simply that long-term weight gain doesn’t seem to be impacted significantly based on formula feeding versus breastfeeding.

So, what do you think? Did you breastfeed or bottle feed? Do you feel like your child experienced any specific benefits or harm because of that choice?

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