Nutrition in infancy seems to be associated with cardiovascular disease and its risk factors in adulthood. These associations may be explained by cardiovascular developmental adaptations in childhood in response to specific infant feeding patterns. The aim of this study was to assess whether duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding and timing of introduction of solid foods affect cardiovascular development in childhood. In a population-based prospective cohort study from fetal life onward, information about duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding and timing of introduction of solid foods was obtained from delivery reports and questionnaires. Blood pressure, carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (PWV), left atrial diameter (LAD), aortic root diameter (AOD), left ventricular (LV) mass, and fractional shortening (FS) were measured at a median age of 6.0 y (95% range: 5.6-7.4 y). Analyses were based on 5003 children. Age at introduction of solid foods was negatively associated with systolic and diastolic blood pressure at the age of 6 y. Compared with children who had ever been breast-fed, never-breast-fed children had a higher carotid-femoral PWV (β: 0.13 m/s; 95% CI: 0.03, 0.24 m/s), a smaller LAD (β: 20.29 mm; 95% CI:20.55,20.03 mm), and less LV mass (b:21.46 g; 95% CI:22.41,20.52 g) at the age of 6 y. Among breast-fed children, duration and exclusivity were not associated with cardiovascular structures or function. Breastfeeding pattern and age at introduction of solid foods were not associated with AOD or FS. Feeding patterns in infancy may influence cardiovascular development in childhood. Further research is required to replicate these findings and to investigate whether these changes contribute to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in later life.

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Journal The Journal of Nutrition
de Jonge, L.L, Langhout, G.C, Taal, H.R, Franco, O.H, Raat, H, Hofman, A, … Jaddoe, V.W.V. (2013). Infant feeding patterns are associated with cardiovascular structures and function in childhood. The Journal of Nutrition, 143(12), 1959–1965. doi:10.3945/jn.113.174326