Lipids in breastmilk may protect against metabolic disease later in life – News-Medical.Net

A new study examines the lipid content in breastmilk and its association with NCDs later in life.

Over the past several decades, it has become increasingly evident that many causes of non-communicable diseases (NCD), also known as lifestyle diseases, originate early in life. NCDs include obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. These diseases are responsible for a considerable proportion of deaths in developed countries.

A new International Journal of Molecular Sciences study examines the lipid content in breastmilk and its association with NCDs later in life.

Study: The Role of Human Milk Lipids and Lipid Metabolites in Protecting the Infant against Non-Communicable Disease. Image Credit: Dmitry Lobanov /

Childhood obesity is a risk factor for obesity and impaired metabolism later in life. Breastfed babies are known to have a lower incidence of obesity and diabetes, with lower fat mass as compared to other babies. In fact, a dose-response relationship has been reported, with babies who are breastfed for longer durations found to grow at a slower pace and put on weight at a slower rate as compared to formula-fed infants.

Chronic inflammation is a common factor underlying most NCDs. A rapid increase in body weight and the presence of infection, both of which are more likely in formula-fed infants as compared to those who are breastfed, predispose the child to inflammation, among other health conditions. For this reason, breastfeeding is considered one important strategy to reduce the prevalence of adult NCDs.

Breastmilk fat constitution may have a major role in this phenomenon, as it modulates the growth and health of the infant. Lipids are key to the synthesis of many metabolic and endocrine compounds. Furthermore, lipids have a significant role in immunity and inflammation and comprise most cell and other subcellular membranes.