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Effect of breast feeding on blood pressure may be overestimated

Effect of breast feeding in infancy on blood pressure in later life: systematic review and met-analysis BMJ Volume 327, pp 1189-92


Previous research may have overestimated the beneficial effects of breast feeding on blood pressure in later life, say researchers in this week's BMJ.

Christopher Owen and colleagues reviewed 24 studies to determine whether breast feeding in infancy was associated with lower blood pressure at different ages compared with bottle feeding formula milk.

Studies that reported noticeable and statistically significant differences in blood pressure between feeding groups were mostly small, raising the possibility of publication bias.

Larger studies showed little difference, suggesting that any effect of breast feeding on blood pressure is, at most, modest and of limited clinical or public health importance, say the authors.

However, breast feeding should be encouraged on the basis of other short and long term benefits, including improved neural and psychological development, potential protection against obesity and allergic disease, and lower blood cholesterol levels in later life, they conclude.


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