Objective: This study examined the influence of type and duration of infant feeding on adiposity rebound and the tracking of body mass index (BMI) from birth to 14 years.

Methods: A sample of 1330 individuals over eight follows-ups was drawn from the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study. Trajectories of BMI from birth to adolescence using linear mixed model (LMM) analysis investigated the influence of age breastfeeding stopped and age other milk introduced (binomial 4-month cut-point). A sub-sample of LMM predicted BMI was used to determine BMI and age at nadir for early infant feeding groups.

Results: Chi square analysis between early feeding and weight status (normal weight, overweight and obese) groups found a significant difference between age breastfeeding stopped (p<0.001) and age other milk introduced (p=0.011), with a higher proportion of overweight and obese in the ≤four months groups, even after controlling for maternal education. The LMM found BMI was higher over time for the breastfeeding group ≤four months (p=0.015) with a significant interaction effect with the age other milk was introduced ≤four months group (p=0.011). The adiposity rebound with LMM predicted BMI found significant differences for nadirs between early feeding groups (p<.005).

Conclusions: Early infant feeding was important in the timing and BMI at adiposity rebound. The relationship between infant feeding and BMI remained up to age 14 years. Although confounding factors cannot be excluded, these findings support the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for longer than four months as a protective behaviour against the development of adolescent obesity.


Peer-reviewed, adiposity rebound, body mass index, breastfeeding, child, linear mixed models, Raine study


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