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The pattern of infant feeding during the first 1000-day period—from conception to the second birthday—has a significant influence on the child’s growth trajectory. The relationship between exclusive breastfeeding and lower risk of childhood obesity has elicited much scientific interest, given the fact that this form of malnutrition is becoming a global epidemic.
This narrative review aims to examine the evidence in the literature linking exclusive breastfeeding with reduction in obesity in children.
Using appropriate search terms, PubMed database was searched for relevant articles that met the review objective.
Evidence for the protective effect of exclusive breastfeeding against childhood obesity have been provided by studies which explored 5 physiologic mechanisms and those that established the causality between breastfeeding and lower risk of obesity. The few studies that disputed this relationship highlighted the influence of confounding factors. A new insight on molecular mechanisms, however, points to a direct and indirect effect of human milk oligosaccharides on the prevention of overweight and obesity.
The preponderance of current evidence strongly suggests that exclusivity in breastfeeding can prevent the development of obesity in children.
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