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Milk-Based Baby Formula
Linked to Blood Pressure

Babies fed a dairy-based formula grew up to have higher blood pressure than babies who were breast-fed, British researchers reported.

Their 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.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says mothers should breast-feed babies for at least a year and longer if possible, while the World Health Organization says two years should be the minimum.

Babies who get breast milk are healthier, less likely to become obese and may have better brain function, studies have shown. Infant formula manufacturers have taken note and regularly adjust their formulas to more closely resemble human milk.

But in the 1970s, formulas were based on dried cow's milk, and breastfeeding was out of fashion in countries such as the United States and Britain. Richard Martin of the University of Bristol and colleagues followed up on babies first studied between 1972 and 1974.

Now in their 20s, those who were fed the most cow's-milk formula were taller but had the highest blood pressure, Martin's team found. High blood pressure can lead to heart disease and stroke.

It could be that the high sodium content of cow's milk affects the development of young babies, the researchers said. It might also be that cow's milk is higher in fat and calories overall, and overfed babies -- especially those who gain weight too rapidly early in life -- are prone to obesity and heart disease later in life.

More-subtle factors could also be at work, they said.

"Mothers in the United Kingdom who breastfeed are likely to be better educated and to encourage healthier eating habits for their children than are mothers who do not breastfeed," the researchers write in the report.

Fortified cow's milk is an important source of calcium and vitamin D -- key to preventing rickets and osteoporosis -- but a second study in the same journal suggests that, at least for adults, orange juice could substitute.

Dr. Michael Holick and colleagues at Boston University School of Medicine found that adults who drank orange juice fortified with vitamin D absorbed it just as well as from milk.

Orange juice is already available fortified with calcium.

Reference Source 89


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