Breast-Fed Infants Have Lower Risk for Hypertension as Adults
Byline: Dr. Eduardo G Gonzales
A few days ago, while surfing the Internet, I came across a news item that says breast-fed infants have a lower risk of developing high blood pressure as adults. Is this true? What are the other benefits of breast-feeding? Perla S., Cebu City
The source material of the news item that you read is most probably the article entitled "Does breast-feeding in infancy lower blood pressure in childhood? The Avon longitudinal study of parents and children (ALSPAC)" that was published in the March 2004 issue of Circulation, a reputable scientific journal published by the American Heart Association.
The study, which was conducted by a group of British doctors headed by Dr. Richard Martin, involved 7,276 infants born full-term between 1991 and 1992 and who were examined at 7.5 years. Dr. Martin and his associates found out that children who were breast-fed for any length of time had lower blood pressure than did formula-fed children. This difference in blood pressure held regardless of the childs sex, body mass, pulse, health, ethnicity, family social status, family income, number of siblings, and whether the mother drank alcohol. In short, the study showed that there is an association between breast-feeding and lower blood pressure later in life.
What remains to be shown, however, is whether this association is a cause and effect one. But I wouldnt be surprised if future scientific studies show that there is indeed a causal relationship between breast-feeding and lower blood pressure later in life because as Dr. Martin and his associates opined breast-fed infants tend to consume less sodium (a factor that influences blood pressure); and, breast milk contains long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which has a favorable effect on the development of blood vessels. …