Children of obese mothers are twice as likely to develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as teenagers, says a new study. Also, children fed infant formula milk before completing six months of breastfeeding have a 40% likelihood of getting the disease.
A study has warned that newborns, who had obese mothers at the start of pregnancy, were twice as likely to develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) as adolescents.The study also found that adolescent children of women, who were obese at the start of pregnancy, were twice as likely to have NAFLD, while those fed with infant formula milk before completing six months of breastfeeding, had a 40% increased likelihood of NAFLD.
NAFLD is the most common liver disorder in developed countries, affecting up to one in four adults. It occurs when fat accumulates within the liver cells in people who do not consume excessive alcohol, and is commonly associated with obesity and insulin resistance.
Lead investigator Oyekoya T Ayonrinde from the University of Western Australia, Perth, said that there have been studies into the benefits of breastfeeding on other diseases, but there is little information about benefits of breastfeeding linked to liver disease.
Dr Ayonrinde added that the team therefore examined records of Australian adolescents to establish whether infant nutrition and maternal factors could be associated with the subsequent diagnosis of NAFLD. The team performed liver ultrasound on more than 1,100 adolescents aged 17 years and were followed even before their birth.
The study found that NAFLD was diagnosed in about 15% of the adolescents examined. 94% had been breastfed as infants. The duration of breastfeeding before starting supplementary milk was four months in 55% and six months in 40%.
The researchers explained that this study further provided additional reasons to support opportunities for women to breastfeed their infants for at least six months while delaying the start of infant formula milk. “This study further supports the need to encourage comprehensive healthy lifestyles before and during pregnancy and prolonged exclusive breastfeeding for the long-term health benefits of future generations,” the team concluded.
The research has appeared in the journal of Hepatology.