Formula-fed babies may be more susceptible to chronic disease

Aug 08, 2013 Diane Nelson University of California, Davis
Formula-fed infants experience metabolic stress that could make them more susceptible than breast-fed infants to a wide range of health issues such as obesity, diabetes, liver problems and cardiovascular
disease, according to new research at the University of California,
 Davis.


Formula-fed infants experience metabolic stress that could make them more susceptible than breast-fed infants to a wide range of health 
issues such as obesity, diabetes, liver problems and cardiovascular 
disease, according to new research at the University of California,
Davis.



A study by biochemists Carolyn Slupsky and Bo Lonnerdal, both of the
 UC Davis Department of Nutrition, sheds new light on the link between
 infant formula feeding and increased risk of chronic diseases later 
in life. The findings were reported in the June issue of the Journal 
of Proteome Research.

"We're not saying formula-fed babies will grow up with health issues,
 but these results indicate that choice of infant feeding may hold
 future consequences," said Slupsky, lead author of the study and also
a faculty member in the UC Davis Department of Food Science and
Technology.

Slupsky and her colleagues used nuclear magnetic resonance 
spectroscopy to look at how diet affects compounds in blood and urine
in infant rhesus monkeys, which provide an animal model similar to 
humans in this type of research. After just four weeks, the 
formula-fed infants were larger than their breast-fed counterparts,
had developed distinct bacterial communities in their gut, had higher
 insulin levels and were metabolizing amino acids differently.



"Our findings support the contention that infant feeding practice
 profoundly influences metabolism in developing infants and may be the 
link between early feeding and the development of metabolic disease 
later in life," Slupsky said.

 The formula-fed babies grew quickly -- perhaps too quickly -- which 
researchers link, in part, to excess protein.

"You want your baby to grow, of course, but growing too quickly is
 not such a good thing," said Slupsky, who hopes her findings will
 help new mothers and the physicians who advise them make informed
 choices about what to feed their babies.

"Mother's milk is an excellent source of nutrition that can't be 
duplicated," she said. For parents who formula-feed their infant,
 Slupsky hopes the science can lead to more beneficial formulas.



"Knowing what we now know, perhaps infant formulas that better mimic 
the protective effects of breast milk can be generated," she said.

Slupsky and her team are now working to compare how compounds in
 breast milk differ between mothers and at different times during 
lactation, as well as how different formulas with varying nutrient
 content affect infant metabolism.

Collaborating with Slupsky and Lonnerdal on the study was Neill
 Haggarty of Fonterra Co-operative Group in New Zealand. Other authors
 were Aifric O'Sullivan, Xuan He and Elizabeth McNiven.

Funding for the study was provided by Fonterra Research and
 Development Centre in New Zealand.

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