Overweight in childhood of exclusively breastfed infants with a high weight at 5 months

Matern Child Nutr. 2021 Jan;17(1):e13057. doi: 10.1111/mcn.13057. Epub 2020 Aug 20.


High infant weight increases the risk of childhood overweight, while breastfeeding may reduce the risk. However, some infants have a very high weight gain even though they are exclusively breastfed. We examined the risk of a high body mass index (BMI) and overweight in childhood for infants ≥2.5 SD above the median weight-for-age (WAZ) at age 5 months according to duration of exclusive breastfeeding (≤2, >2 to <4 or ≥4 months). The study is based on 13,401 7-year-old and 9,819 11-year-old children enrolled into the Danish National Birth Cohort (born 1997-2003). Linear and logistic regression analyses were used to examine the associations while adjusting for presumed confounders including birth weight. The results showed that infants ≥2.5 SD at 5 months, breastfed exclusively ≤2, >2 to <4 or ≥4 months had adjusted odds ratios (ORs) for overweight at age 7 at 3.67 (95% confidence interval [CI] [2.10, 6.43]), 3.42 (95% CI [2.32, 5.04]) and 3.19 (95% CI [1.90, 5.36]) respectively, when compared with infants <2.5 SD WAZ exclusively breastfed ≥4 months. The corresponding results for BMI z-scores were 0.82 (95% CI [0.60, 1.04]), 0.63 (95% CI [0.48, 0.78]) and 0.57 (95% CI [0.38, 0.77]). For the ≥2.5 SD infants, the differences in risk of overweight and BMI according to duration of exclusive breastfeeding were neither significantly different among the 7-year nor among the 11-year-old children. A high infant weight increases the odds of overweight and is associated with a higher BMI in childhood. Whereas the odds and BMI z-scores tended to be lower for those exclusively breastfed longer, the differences were not statistically significant.

Keywords: children; cohort study; exclusive breastfeeding; high infant weight; overweight.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Pediatric Obesity* / epidemiology
  • Pediatric Obesity* / prevention & control
  • Weight Gain