Health research

Infant weight gain increases risk of adult weight-related disease

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Breastfeeding

Infant weight gain increases risk of adult weight-related disease
Weight gain during infancy is directly linked to increased risks of obesity and other weight related conditions later in life, according to a University of study. 

Moreover, the research, which followed 395 non-diabetic children born at two maternity hospitals in the city from birth through to the age of eight, also identified that breast feeding would help prevent a stack of health problems in adulthood.

Link with age

"Excessive weight gain over this period may have consequences for later body size, however, its relationship to arterial wall thickening and risk factors in later childhood had not been well documented, until now​,” said Dr Michael Skilton, the lead author of the paper.

"Our study found early postnatal weight gain from birth to 18 months is significantly associated with later childhood overweight and obesity, as well as a poorer risk factor profile and greater arterial wall thickness​.

"Excessive weight gain during infancy was strongly associated with increased waist circumference and higher blood pressure at eight years of age, compared to those with normal weight gain in early life​."

Surprising findings

Two other findings surprised the team: that breastfeeding for at least six months and a longer gestation period were associated with lesser weight gain in children.

"Our study found independent predictors of greater early weight gain included shorter gestation and a failure to breastfeed until six months of age​," explained Skilton.

"It showed the effect of early weight gain was amplified by later childhood, with weight at eight years being 2.1 to 3.3 kg higher for every 1kg of weight gain during infancy​."

Future studies could assess whether reducing excessive early life weight gain might be associated with improved cardiovascular risk profiles, in later life.

"We have identified, for example, that breastfeeding is a potentially modifiable factor associated with significantly less early life weight gain​," added Skilton.

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