Breastfeeding duration and its relation to weight gain, eating behaviours and positive maternal feeding practices in infancy

S. L. Rogers, Jacqueline Blissett

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    46 Citations (Scopus)
    195 Downloads (Pure)


    Research examining the relationship between breastfeeding and infant weight has generated conflicting results. Few studies account for significant covariates and many suffer methodological problems such as retrospective self-report. The current study aimed to investigate relationships between breastfeeding duration, infant weight and eating and positive maternal mealtime behaviours, whilst overcoming many of the limitations of previous research. Eighty-one women on low-risk maternity units gave informed consent and were visited at home at 1-week, 1-, 6- and 12-months postpartum. Infants included 45 males and 36 females (mean birth-weight 3.52 kg [SD 0.39]). Mothers and infants were weighed and measured and feeding information was recorded at each visit. Infant weight was converted to a standard deviation score (SDS), accounting for age and sex. Mothers reported infant eating behaviours at 12-months using the Children's Eating Behaviour Questionnaire and were observed feeding their infants solid food at home at 6- and 12-months. Partial correlations (covariates: maternal age, education, BMI, smoking during pregnancy, household income, infant birth weight SDS and age introduced to solid foods) revealed negative associations between breastfeeding duration and 1- to 6- and 1- to 12-month weight gain, and 6- and 12-month weight. Breastfeeding duration was also associated with a slower rate of infant eating and greater observed maternal vocalisations, appropriateness and sensitivity. Results support a dose-response relationship between breastfeeding and infant weight and suggest that breastfeeding may encourage the development of obesity-protective eating behaviours through learning to attend to internal hunger and satiety signals. Future research should investigate whether relationships between slowness in eating and weight extend to satiety responsiveness after infancy.

    NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Appetite. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Appetite [108 (Jan 2017)] DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2016.10.020

    © 2017, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)399–406
    Issue numberJanuary 2017
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2016


    • Breastfeeding duration
    • Feeding practices
    • Eating behaviours
    • Weight gain
    • Infancy


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