A team of researchers elaborated a new study which infers that babies born by obese or overweight women may run into growth problems during the breastfeeding stage. The problems stem from changes which affect the balance of inflammatory and hormonal molecules which are present in breast milk and tied with appetite and growth.
This would mean that the traits of breast milk vary by the weight of the mother at the time of conception, and the development of the infant can be influenced negatively during the nursing period.
The researchers started the study in an attempt to understand more about how breastfeeding offers a layer of protection against childhood weight gain and obesity during the early stages of development. In the last few decades, childhood obesity rates have started to increase, and it was thought that maternal weight variations could influence the levels of cytokines, fatty acids, and hormones found in blood and breast milk.
Maternal Obesity Might Impact The Development of Breastfeeding Infants
During the study, the researchers observed the level of several compounds which were present in the bloodstream and breast milk of two distinct groups of women.
One of the groups featured members with a healthy pre-pregnancy BMI while in the case of the other group, the level was considerably higher. Among the compounds which were measured the researchers looked for ones which are linked to stronger inflammation, with two prime candidates being cytokines interleukin 6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor- α (TNF), anti0inflammatory compounds like omega-3 fatty acids and select hormones like insulin and leptin.
The researchers discovered that infant growth was influenced by the level of pro-inflammatory markers present among the two groups. The infants of women in the second group (which featured a high BMI during pregnancy) did not develop as well as the ones observed in the first group. The study found a small number of women, but the results will lead to further research in the future.