Breast-Feeding During Infancy May Lower Blood Pressures in Childhood

According to a report by the March 02, 2004 Reuters Health, individuals who were breast-fed during infancy appear to have a decreased risk of death from heart disease, and now new research suggests that this may be due to blood pressure-lowering effects. The findings are based on a study of 4,763 non-twin, full-term infants who had their blood pressures determined at 7.5 years of age.

Dr. Richard M. Martin, from the University of Bristol in the UK, and colleagues found that breast-fed children had systolic blood pressure (the top number of the blood pressure reading) lower than those of children who were not breast-fed. The study showed that there was little difference between infants who were only breast-fed and those who received a combination of breast milk and formula. The study did show that the duration of breast-feeding had an increasingly positive effect, creating a notable decrease in blood pressure for each additional 3 months of breastfeeding.

Dr. Martin noted the importance of even a slight decrease in blood pressure by commenting, “A one-percent reduction in population systolic blood pressure levels is associated with about a 1.5-percent reduction in all-cause mortality, equivalent to a lessening in premature death of about 8000 to 2000 deaths per year in the United States and the United Kingdom, respectively”