July 5, 2013
Long-term EU funded research with more than 1000 children has found ‘early nutrition programming’ can deliver significant health benefits later in life — including big reductions in obesity.
According to a previous study by University of California, San Diego bioengineers, free fatty acids created during the digestion of infant formula cause cellular death and severe intestinal conditions.
Another study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, supports several others that show substituting cow’s milk for breast milk might promote heart disease later in life.
Project leader, professor Berthold Koletzko from the University of Munich, said the 2-year+ EARNEST project showed that infants up to two years of age fed lower protein formulas closer to breast milk weighed less than infants fed high-protein formulas.
The weight differential continued after six months when both sets of infants moved onto similar diets. If projected forward the difference would be as high as 13% at age 14-16.
“This research has enormous potential for improving the health and well-being of future generations, reducing costs for health care and social services, and for enhancing the productivity and wealth of societies,” said professor Koletzko.
The infants in the trial were from five EU countries.
The researchers pointed to non-nutritive elements of breast milk that may deliver health benefits and could explain the weight findings.
The concentrations of aluminum in infant formulas are up to 40 times higher than are present in breast milk. These concentrations are all several times higher than are allowed in drinking water. They are clearly too high for human consumption and certainly too high for consumption by such a vulnerable group as pre-term and term infants.
Previous research has highlighted the potential toxicity of aluminum in infants with confounding disorders (including, prematurity, poor renal function and gastrointestinal disease) and fed infant formulas and these studies when viewed alongside aluminum’s known connections with medicine and human disease should at least deter complacency concerning this issue.
Nestle and Mead Johnson Nutrition recently dismissed calls to remove genetically-modified organisms (GMO) from their infant formula products in the US and now evidence is coming forth on long-term risks related to infant formulations. Epidemiological research has indicated a relationship between infant formula feeding and increased risk of chronic diseases later in life including obesity, type-2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Researchers stated that the comprehensive metabolic implications of formula vs breast-feeding play a role in long-term health risks.
EARNEST partners also developed evidence-based recommendations for dietary fat intake in pregnancy, during breastfeeding, and in infancy.
It explored parental decisions on nutrition and lifestyle, and the messages that influence those decisions.
Professor Koletzko said his experience of the project was like that of a, “mountaineer, who has reached one summit, only for another to appear behind it. More research is required to fully understand how environmental factors adversely affect long-term outcomes and the extent to which the mother is able to protect her child against them.”
More about the project can be found here.
Karen Foster is a holistic nutritionist, avid blogger, with five kids and an active lifestyle that keeps her in pursuit of the healthiest path towards a life of balance.