Growth, Health and Development of Breast- and Formula-fed Infants at Risk
Today there is a double burden of malnutrition and more often than not, the initial issue lies with the mothers nutritional status before and during pregnancy.
In developing countries, many mothers have BMIs under 18 meaning they are underweight. Furthermore, these women tend to have children very early. Mothers with a low BMI have an increased risk of preterm births and babies being small for gestational age (SGA) leading to a higher risk for stunting later in childhood. Breastfeeding has always been a controversial issue and the mothers nutritional status wasn’t a focus until recently. Exclusive breastfeeding needs to be promoted as it prevents wasting, stunting and infection compared to non-exclusive or not breastfed infants. Strategies to promote breastfeeding in community and facility settings have shown promising benefits on enhancing exclusive breastfeeding rates.
Rapid infant weight gain between 0-12 months is associated with an increased risk of later (adult) obesity and adverse outcomes. Worldwide, prevalence of overweight and obesity combined rose by 27.5 for adults and 47.1 for children between 1980 and 2013. The old formulas that have high protein compared to breastmilk show that formula fed infants grow faster than breastfed infants and their BMI is higher at 6 years. Prevention strategies for overweight mothers is to continue breastfeeding after 6 months up to 2 years of age and if breastfeeding is not possible, a low protein formula should be used as the only suitable alternative.