Indexed on: 10 Feb '16Published on: 10 Feb '16Published in: The British journal of nutrition
Breast-feeding has been associated with later bone health, but results from previous studies are inconsistent. We examined the associations of breast-feeding patterns and timing of introduction of solids with bone mass at the age of 6 years in a prospective cohort study among 4919 children. We collected information about duration and exclusiveness of breast-feeding and timing of introduction of any solids with postnatal questionnaires. A total body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scan was performed at 6 years of age, and bone mineral density (BMD), bone mineral content (BMC), area-adjusted BMC (aBMC) and bone area (BA) were analysed. Compared with children who were ever breast-fed, those never breast-fed had lower BMD (-4·62 mg/cm2; 95 % CI -8·28, -0·97), BMC (-8·08 g; 95 % CI -12·45, -3·71) and BA (-7·03 cm2; 95 % CI -12·55, -1·52) at 6 years of age. Among all breast-fed children, those who were breast-fed non-exclusively in the first 4 months had higher BMD (2·91 mg/cm2; 95 % CI 0·41, 5·41) and aBMC (3·97 g; 95 % CI 1·30, 6·64) and lower BA (-4·45 cm2; 95 % CI -8·28, -0·61) compared with children breast-fed exclusively for at least 4 months. Compared with introduction of solids between 4 and 5 months, introduction <4 months was associated with higher BMD and aBMC, whereas introduction between 5 and 6 months was associated with lower aBMC and higher BA. Additional adjustment for infant vitamin D supplementation did not change the results. In conclusion, results from the present study suggest that ever breast-feeding compared with never breast-feeding is associated with higher bone mass in 6-year-old children, but exclusive breast-feeding for 4 months or longer was not positively associated with bone outcomes.