Why Baby’s First Meals Matter Photo: Veer / The Bump
By now, you've heard that breast milk's good for baby. But while we know of some of its health benefits, scientists are still learning more about how exactly baby’s nourishment really affects him. The latest finding? It can affect his metabolism.
Researchers at Claude Bernard University in Lyon, France, compared exclusively breastfed newborns with ones fed formula. On day 15, the breastfed babies tended to have lower blood insulin levels than the ones on formula (suggesting their metabolisms were working more efficiently). At age three, the breastfed babies had slightly higher head circumferences too. Researchers don’t know exactly what those results mean, but they do suggest that there could be long-term health effects. "It appears that formula feeding induces differences in some hormonal profiles as well as in patterns of growth compared with breastfeeding," said study coauthor Guy Putet, MD, in a statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics. "The long-term consequences of such changes are not well-understood in humans and may play a role in later health."
If you're formula feeding, don't freak out. At age three, the blood insulin levels between the groups were about the same, and even though the head circumferences varied, they were still within the normal range. Plus, it's not really clear how this could affect baby’s health in the long-term. "Well-designed studies with long-term follow-up are needed," Putet added.
Do studies like this affect how you choose to feed baby? Why or why not?
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