Early weaning linked to chronic diseases later in life: Study

Published on July 27, 2010 at 11:10 PM · No Comments

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

Lack of breastfeeding in infancy may lead to chronic diseases later in life say researchers. At present 90% of people aged between 35 and 40 were not breastfed as babies.

According to the Australian National University research which analyzed the results of existing studies, chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, asthma, digestive diseases, childhood cancers and heart problems may have a common factor. Researcher Dr Julie Smith and her team found that infants who were prematurely weaned suffered more from chronic diseases as adults than those who were weaned later. She said, “The risk associated with lack of breastfeeding in infancy was 30 percent higher for many conditions compared to breastfed infants…We still don't fully understand the long-term implications of breastfeeding in infancy. But…more than one in 10 Australians will face heightened risk in later life because they were not breastfed.” She pointed out that inappropriate health policies and attitudes towards breastfeeding had begun in the post-war decades, when formula was promoted in hospitals.

The study is published in the international journal Public Health Nutrition.

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