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Breastfeeding and Trans-fat

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

There’s been a lot of discussion on the benefits of breastfeeding. Breast milk contains the right balance of nutrients for your baby and boosts your baby’s immune system.

Breast-feeding is also the most convenient and least expensive way to feed your baby. But breastfeeding can also pass along unintended problems.

Breast-fed babies are much more likely to put on excess body fat if their mother’s diet is high in trans fats, finds a new study.

U.S. researchers looked at 96 women and their babies. Infants whose mothers consumed more than 4.5 grams of trans fats per day while breast-feeding were twice as likely to have a high percentage of body fat than babies whose mothers consumed lower amounts of trans fats.

Current research finds babies who gain weight too quickly in the first months of life are at a increased risk of becoming heavy toddlers. But some doctors say weight gain alone may not tell the whole story. How much fat a baby has right at birth may be another sign of future problems.

When it comes to fat, trans fat is considered by some doctors to be the worst of them all because of its double-barreled impact on your cholesterol levels. Unlike other fats, trans fat — also called trans-fatty acids — both raises your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and lowers your “good” (HDL) cholesterol.

The study also found that mothers who consumed more than 4.5 grams a day of trans fats had a nearly six times greater risk of excessive fat accumulation. This suggests that intake of trans fats could have a more significant weight gain effect on women when they’re breast-feeding than at other times in their lives, said the University of Georgia researchers.

The findings were recently published online in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Further research is needed to learn more about how a mother’s consumption of trans fats may affect her child’s long-term health.

“It would help to be able to follow the child from when the mother was pregnant, through birth, and then adolescence, so that we can confirm what the type of infant feeding and maternal diet during breast-feeding have to do with the recent epidemic of childhood obesity,” study co-author Alex Anderson, an assistant professor in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences, said in a university news release.

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