A British study reported that breast-fed babies are likely to have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease later in life than bottle-fed babies.
It found that teenagers given breast milk as premature infants had lower cholesterol than those who had been given formula milk, and a 14 per cent lower ratio between “good” and “bad” cholesterol.
The teenagers came from 926 premature babies born between 1982 and 1985, who were given breast milk or formula for about four weeks after birth, or until they weighed 2000 grams. The researchers followed up 216 of them, now aged 13 to 16.
The study, published in The Lancet, also found that those given breast milk had lower levels of a protein that is a marker for atherosclerosis, a known precursor to cardiovascular disease.
“Our findings suggest that the effect of breast milk consumption on lipoprotein concentration protects against the development of atherosclerosis from a young age,” the researchers wrote. They hypothesise that a 10 per cent reduction in cholesterol could reduce cardiovascular disease by a quarter, and deaths from it by about 14 per cent.