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Researchers followed 94 children of diabetic mothers and 399 children of non-diabetic mothers from birth until age 13.
It's known that children of diabetic pregnancies are at increased risk for obesity. The Colorado School of Public Health researchers wanted to assess how breast-feeding affected the growth of body-mass index (BMI), an indicator of childhood obesity.
The study found that children of diabetic pregnancies who were breast-fed for at least six months had a slower BMI growth as they grew older than those who were breast-fed for less than six months. The study found similar results in children of non-diabetic pregnancies.
The study was published online recently in the International Journal of Obesity.
"Breast-feeding support represents an important clinical and public health strategy to reduce the risk of childhood obesity," study author and epidemiologist Tessa Crume said in a University of Colorado Denver news release.
The findings offer another reason to encourage and support mothers to breast-feed for at least six months, the time recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the release said.
"We can work with pediatricians, obstetricians and the public health community to give these women targeted support immediately following birth," Crume said.
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: University Colorado Denver, news release, Feb. 8, 2012