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The preventive effect of breast-feeding for longer than 6 months on early pubertal development among children aged 7–9 years in Korea

  • Hye Ah Lee (a1), Young Ju Kim (a2), Hwayoung Lee (a3), Hye Sun Gwak (a4), Young Sun Hong (a5), Hae Soon Kim (a6), Eun Ae Park (a6), Su Jin Cho (a6), Eun Hee Ha (a1) and Hyesook Park (a1)...

Abstract

Objective

The present study was performed to investigate whether breast-feeding is associated with early pubertal development among children 7–9 years old in Korea.

Design

Children were divided into those who did and did not receive breast-feeding for 6 months or longer in accordance with the recommendations of the WHO. Pubertal status was determined by clinical examination using Tanner staging.

Setting

Prospective observational study.

Subjects

We conducted a follow-up study of children aged 7–9 years in 2011 who had taken part in the Ewha Birth & Growth Cohort study.

Results

Fifty (22·8 %) of the total of 219 children were in early puberty, with the proportion being slightly higher for girls (24·1 %) than boys (21·4 %). Children who had entered early puberty were taller, weighed more and had a higher concentration of insulin-like growth factor 1. Moreover, the change in weight Z-score from birth to follow-up was significantly lower in children who were breast-fed than in those who were not (weight Z-score change: 0·32 (sd 1·59) v. 0·77 (sd 1·61), respectively, P=0·04). Comparison of breast-feeding by puberty status indicated a preventive association with early puberty in children who were breast-fed for 6 months or longer (OR=0·37; 95 % CI 0·18, 0·74). This association remained significant after adjustment for relevant covariates.

Conclusions

These results demonstrate a beneficial association between breast-feeding and early pubertal development, especially in those breast-fed for 6 months or longer. The study suggests that interventions would need to start early in life to prevent early pubertal development.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

* Corresponding author: Email hpark@ewha.ac.kr

References

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