Journal Article

Duration of Breastfeeding and Risk of Overweight: A Meta-Analysis

Thomas Harder, Renate Bergmann, Gerd Kallischnigg and Andreas Plagemann

in American Journal of Epidemiology

Published on behalf of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Volume 162, issue 5, pages 397-403
Published in print September 2005 | ISSN: 0002-9262
Published online September 2005 | e-ISSN: 1476-6256 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwi222
Duration of Breastfeeding and Risk of Overweight: A Meta-Analysis

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Observational studies suggest a longer duration of breastfeeding to be associated dose dependently with a decrease in risk of overweight in later life. The authors performed a comprehensive meta-analysis of the existing studies on duration of breastfeeding and risk of overweight. Studies were included that reported the odds ratio and 95% confidence interval (or the data to calculate them) of overweight associated with breastfeeding and that reported the duration of breastfeeding and used exclusively formula-fed subjects as the referent. Seventeen studies met the inclusion criteria. By meta-regression, the duration of breastfeeding was inversely associated with the risk of overweight (regression coefficient = 0.94, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.89, 0.98). Categorical analysis confirmed this dose-response association (<1 month of breastfeeding: odds ratio (OR) = 1.0, 95% CI: 0.65, 1.55; 1–3 months: OR = 0.81, 95% CI: 0.74, 0.88; 4–6 months: OR = 0.76, 95% CI: 0.67, 0.86; 7–9 months: OR = 0.67, 95% CI: 0.55, 0.82; >9 months: OR = 0.68, 95% CI: 0.50, 0.91). One month of breastfeeding was associated with a 4% decrease in risk (OR = 0.96/month of breastfeeding, 95% CI: 0.94, 0.98). The definitions of overweight and age had no influence. These findings strongly support a dose-dependent association between longer duration of breastfeeding and decrease in risk of overweight.

Keywords: body weight; breast feeding; meta-analysis; obesity; CI, confidence interval; OR, odds ratio

Journal Article.  3787 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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