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Weight Retention and Lactation
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Lactation and Weight Retention

The effect of lactation on weight retention was investigated longitudinally, with data collected at 0.5, 2, 4, 6, 12, and 18 mo after parturition in 110 women aged 20-40 years who had been nulliparous or primiparous. At each evaluation women were categorized as fully breast-feeding, partly breast-feeding, or bottle-feeding including infants weaned to a bottle (bottle feeding/weaned). Postpartum weight retention was calculated by subtracting weight before pregnancy from weight at each evaluation. Lactation practices were found to be significantly associated with postpartum weight retention by longitudinal regression analysis. Women who bottle-fed their infants retained more weight over time than women who breast-fed their infants. Significantly slower rates of weight loss were observed when women ceased breast-feeding or switched from fully to partly breast-feeding. Weight retention over time was greater in women who were older, unmarried, or had greater weight gain during pregnancy. A pattern of weight gain rather than weight loss was observed in unmarried women. Our findings suggest that lactation influences the pattern of postpartum weight retention; however, the effect of lactation on weight retention was sufficiently limited to warrant minimal emphasis on lactation as a means of minimizing postpartum weight retention.

Source: Janney CA, Zhang D, Sowers M. Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA.

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