Infant milk feeding and bone health in later life: findings from the Hertfordshire cohort study.
Carter SA., Parsons CM., Robinson SM., Harvey NC., Ward KA., Cooper C., Dennison EM.
Using data from the Hertfordshire cohort study, this study examined the effect of breastfeeding and bottle feeding on adult lumbar spine and femoral neck bone mineral content (BMC) and bone mineral density (BMD). The type of infant milk feeding was significantly associated with lumbar spine BMD in males. INTRODUCTION: Using data from the Hertfordshire cohort study (HCS), this study aims to examine the effect of infant milk feeding on bone health in later life by comparing the effect of breastfeeding and bottle feeding on lumbar spine and femoral neck BMC and BMD. METHODS: Information about infant milk feeding, birth weight (kg) and weight at 1 (kg) was collected by health visitors between 1931 and 1939 in Hertfordshire. BMC and BMD measurements were taken by DXA scan between 1998 and 2004. Linear regression models adjusted for conditional weight at 1, age at DXA scan, sex, adult BMI, smoking behaviour, alcohol consumption, physical activity, dietary calcium, and prudent diet score. RESULTS: Infant milk feeding was significantly associated with lumbar spine BMD (b = - 0.028; 95% CI, - 0.055; - 0.000; p value, 0.047) in males. On average, males who consumed breastmilk alternatives in infancy had lower lumbar spine BMD measurements than those who were fed only breastmilk. These associations remained significant in fully adjusted models. There were no significant associations between infant milk feeding and bone health for females. CONCLUSIONS: Significant associations between infant milk feeding and lumbar spine BMD in males indicate that breastmilk may be protective for the bone health of male babies. The evidence presented here underscores the potential lifelong benefits of breastfeeding and may highlight the differences between osteoporotic risk factors for males and females.