Late effects of breast-feeding and early weaning: seven-year prospective study in children

Endocr Regul. 1991 Jun;25(1-2):53-7.


The effect of breast feeding on some clinical and thyroid function parameters was studied in a prospective longitudinal study from birth up to 7 years of age. At the ages 1-7 years, the obesity rates observed in children breast-fed for less than 3 months were substantially higher than in children who had been breast-fed over longer intervals. Mean age when obesity was reported was similar in all groups (4-5 years). The rates of respiratory tract diseases were found to be highest in children which had been breast-fed for less than 2 weeks. Breast-feeding for more than 6 months had a protective effect against diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. The longitudinal follow-up revealed biphasic changes of thyroid hormones and TSH in sera with a nadir at 2-3 years, followed by an increase at the end of preschool age. Duration of breast-feeding did not affect profoundly these parameters at the ages 1-7 years. Surprisingly, during late preschool age (5-6 years) total serum cholesterol increased with the age at weaning. The atherogenic index in 6-year-old children was most favourable in the group breast-fed over more than 1 but less than 3 months. This was due to the highest levels of HDL-cholesterol in this group. We conclude that the age at weaning may be important for the later development of children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Lung Diseases / epidemiology
  • Lung Diseases / physiopathology
  • Lung Diseases / prevention & control
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Prospective Studies
  • Thyroid Gland / metabolism
  • Thyroid Gland / physiology
  • Thyroid Hormones / blood
  • Thyrotropin / blood
  • Time Factors
  • Weaning*


  • Thyroid Hormones
  • Thyrotropin
  • Cholesterol