Early exclusive breastfeeding is associated with longer telomeres in Latino preschool children

Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Aug;104(2):397-405. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.115428. Epub 2016 Jul 20.

Abstract

Background: Telomere length (TL) is a marker of cellular aging, with the majority of lifetime attrition occurring during the first 4 y. Little is known about risk factors for telomere shortening in childhood.

Objective: We evaluated the relation between early life feeding variables and preschool TL.

Design: We assessed the relation between dietary, feeding, and weight-associated risk factors measured from birth and TL from blood samples taken at 4 y of age (n = 108) and 5 y of age (n = 92) in a cohort of urban, Latino children (n = 121 individual children). Feeding variables were evaluated in children with repeat measurements (n = 77).

Results: Mean TL (in bp) was associated with exclusive breastfeeding at 4-6 wk of age (adjusted coefficient: 353.85; 95% CI: 72.81, 634.89; P = 0.01), maternal TL (adjusted coefficient: 0.32; 95% CI: 0.11, 0.54; P < 0.01), and older paternal age (adjusted coefficient: 33.27; 95% CI: 4.10, 62.44; P = 0.03). The introduction of other foods or drinks in addition to breast-milk or replacement-milk substitutes before 4-6 wk of age was associated with mean TL at 4 and 5 y of age (adjusted coefficient: -457.01; 95% CI: -720.50, -193.51; P < 0.01). Infant obesity at 6 mo of age and soda consumption at 4 y of age mediated the relation in part between exclusive breastfeeding at 4-6 wk of age and mean TL at 4 and 5 y of age. High soda consumption at 3 y of age was associated with an accelerated attrition from 4 to 5 y of age (adjusted coefficient: -515.14; 95% CI: -986.06, -41.22; P = 0.03).

Conclusion: Exclusive breastfeeding at 4-6 wk of age may have long-term effects on child health as evidenced by longer TL at 4 and 5 y of age.

Keywords: Latino; breastfeeding; infants; obesity; telomere; telomere length.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Beverages
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Sucrose / pharmacology
  • Fathers
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Milk, Human
  • Mothers
  • Pediatric Obesity / complications
  • Risk Factors
  • Telomere Shortening*
  • Telomere*
  • Urban Population

Substances

  • Dietary Sucrose