Does breast-feeding in infancy lower blood pressure in childhood? The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC).

Research paper by Richard M RM Martin, Andrew R AR Ness, David D Gunnell, Pauline P Emmett, George G Davey Smith,

Indexed on: 03 Mar '04Published on: 03 Mar '04Published in: Circulation


Breast-feeding in infancy has been associated with decreased coronary heart disease mortality, but the underlying mechanisms are unclear. We investigated the association of breast-feeding with blood pressure in a contemporary cohort.In a prospective cohort study (ALSPAC, United Kingdom), a total of 7276 singleton, term infants born in 1991 and 1992 were examined at 7.5 years. Complete data were available for 4763 children. The systolic and diastolic blood pressures of breast-fed children were 1.2 mm Hg lower (95% CI, 0.5 to 1.9) and 0.9 mm Hg lower (0.3 to 1.4), respectively, compared with children who were never breast-fed (models controlled for age, sex, room temperature, and field observer). Blood pressure differences were attenuated but remained statistically significant in fully adjusted models controlling for social, economic, maternal, and anthropometric variables (reduction in systolic blood pressure: 0.8 mm Hg [0.1 to 1.5]; reduction in diastolic blood pressure: 0.6 mm Hg [0.1 to 1.0]). Blood pressure differences were similar whether breast-feeding was partial or exclusive. We examined the effect of breast-feeding duration. In fully adjusted models, there was a 0.2-mm Hg reduction (0.0 to 0.3) in systolic pressure for each 3 months of breast-feeding.Breast-feeding is associated with a lowering of later blood pressure in children born at term. If the association is causal, the wider promotion of breast-feeding is a potential component of the public health strategy to reduce population levels of blood pressure.