Recent research based on the ongoing Canadian CHILD Cohort Study has revealed that babies who were breastfed, even for a few days had lower blood pressure as toddlers.
The study believes that these variations in blood pressure between breastfed babies and others could translate into improved heart and vascular health as adults.
The research which was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association discovered that cardiovascular disease risk factors, including high blood pressure, can begin in childhood.
While the study did not reveal the amount and length of time breastfeeding that is needed to achieve the cardiovascular benefit, it established that breastfeeding is associated with lower cardiovascular disease risk in adulthood.
Sharing her insights about the study, Prof. Kozeta Miliku, Lead Author of the study stated that “This is the first study to evaluate the association of breastfeeding in the first days of life and blood pressure in early childhood.”
Prof. Miliku, the clinical science officer of the CHILD Cohort Study and post-doctoral fellow in medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada further added that “Infants who received even a relatively small amount of their mother’s early breast milk, also known as colostrum, had lower blood pressure at 3 years of age, regardless of how long they were breastfed or when they received other complementary foods.”
Colostrum is known to be especially rich in growth factors, immunologic components and stem cells that are extremely beneficial to newborns and only found in human breastmilk.
Data collected as part of the ongoing Canadian CHILD Cohort Study, a study of over 3,000 children who were born between 2009-2012 was used by the researchers to begin their study. The team followed up with the children from the study to understand how early life experiences shape health and development.
Dr. Meghan B. Azad, Senior Study Author added that “The benefits of sustained and exclusive breastfeeding are well documented for numerous health conditions, including respiratory infections and diarrheal disease during infancy, and chronic conditions including asthma and obesity later in life.”
“Our study suggests that for cardiovascular outcomes such as blood pressure, even a brief period of breastfeeding is beneficial. This points to colostrum as a key factor in shaping developmental processes during the newborn period. For many reasons, sustained breastfeeding should be strongly supported, and it is also important to understand that ‘every drop count,’ especially in those critical first few days of life”, she further elaborated.