Blood Pressure

Research on infant health

Below is a range of studies on the effects of breastfeeding on blood pressure and related conditions. For further reading and research, scroll to the links at the bottom of the page.

Breastfeeding in the First Days of Life Is Associated With Lower Blood Pressure at 3 Years of Age

A total of 2382 children with complete data on early life feeding and blood pressure were analysed in this CHILD (Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development) Cohort Study, with findings indicating that any breastfeeding, regardless of duration or exclusivity, is associated with lower blood pressure at 3 years of age. Among breastfed children, there was no significant dose‐response association according to the duration or exclusivity of breastfeeding.

Miliku, K., Moraes, T., et al. (2021). Breastfeeding in the First Days of Life Is Associated With Lower Blood Pressure at 3 Years of Age. Journal of the American Heart Association. 2021;10:e019067

WHO review highlights long-term benefits of breastfeeding

This WHO-commissioned review of the evidence of long-term benefits of breastfeeding found that subjects who were breastfed experienced lower mean blood pressure and total cholesterol, as well as higher performance in intelligence tests. The prevalence of overweight/obesity and type-2 diabetes was also lower among breastfed subjects.

Horta B.L. et al (2007) Evidence on the long-term effects of breastfeeding. WHO

Exclusive breastfeeding reduces risk of respiratory infections, wheeze, excessive weight and high blood pressure

This study found that bottle-fed infants were at almost twice the risk of developing respiratory illness at any time during the first 7 years of life compared with breastfed infants. It also found that solid feeding before 15 weeks was associated with an increased probability of wheeze during childhood as well as increased percentage body fat and weight in childhood. Systolic blood pressure was raised significantly in children who were exclusively bottle fed compared with children who received breastmilk.

Wilson AC et al. (1998). Relation of infant diet to childhood health: seven year follow up cohort of children in Dundee infant feeding study. BMJ 316: 21-25. (Full Text)

Breastfeeding and protection against obesity and high blood pressure

Findings from this study in Belarus did not indicate that breastfeeding resulted in significant effects on height, body mass index or blood pressure. The authors note that at the time of writing Belarus is not suffering from an obesity epidemic, therefore some caution should be taken when interpreting these results.

Kramer MS, Matush L, Vanilovich I et al. (2007) Effects of prolonged and exclusive breastfeeding on child height, weight, adiposity and blood pressure at age 6.5 y: evidence from a large randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr: 1717-1721

Systematic review of the impact of breastfeeding on blood pressure

This review of 15 studies covering 17,503 subjects found that breastfed infants had lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure in later life than bottle-fed infants.

Martin RM et al (2005). Breastfeeding in Infancy and Blood Pressure in Later Life: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.Am J Epidemiology161:15-26

Related research and further reading

The Lancet: Increasing breastfeeding worldwide could prevent over 800,000 child deaths every year

Read more

The impact of breastfeeding on maternal and child health: Acta Paediatrica special issue

Read more