‘Infant formula could change gut bacteria’
A new study states breastfed babies have different gut microbiomes and lower obesity levels as they grow than those primarily fed formula.
Researchers looked at data from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development, focusing on the first year of life for more than 1000 infants from four different sites.
They wanted to know if only breastfeeding, breastfeeding plus some early foods, or formula feeding alone affected the type of bacteria found in the infants’ guts at two ages: three to four months and 12 months.
Mothers reported on breastfeeding and when formula and complementary food was introduced to the infant.
Other factors, including infant sex, birth weight, antibiotic use, maternal smoking status, race, education level, pet ownership, diet and pre-pregnancy body mass index, were reported.
Babies’ stool samples were taken at three to four months and 12 months to test for the variety of gut bacteria.
A total of 96% of mothers were breastfeeding after birth. However, at three months, only 54% of infants were solely breastfed. Another 30% of the babies were partially breastfed and 16% were fed formula alone.
Weight differences began to show between the different groups of babies at three months. Of the formula-fed babies, 33% were overweight or at risk of being overweight, while 19% of exclusively breastfed babies were overweight or at risk.
The differences are likely connected to what’s happening in the gut, the researchers said.
The study has been published in The Journal of Pediatrics. For more information, click here.