The research found that premature babies who were breastfed had larger hearts than preterm babies who were bottle-fed.
Scientists at Oxford University invited 102 adults, who had been enrolled in the study of premature babies in 1982, to analyse their heart development, as well as appointing another 102 who were born full-term to uncomplicated pregnancies.
The results of the study showed that preterm babies who had been breastfed had ventricles in the heart 10% larger than those who were also preterm and bottle-fed as babies.
Commenting on the research, Professional Policy Advisor at the Royal College of Midwives, Janet Fyle, said: “The benefits of breastfeeding have long been known to be significant, and have an influence on an individual’s long-term health status well into adult life.
“This research adds further weight to this and shows why we should actively promote breastfeeding as the most appropriate method of infant feeding.”
Additional research suggests the UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world.
Researchers also believe that if the number of women who breastfeed between seven and 18 months doubled, the NHS could save £50,000 million every year through the reduction of childhood diseases and the lowered risk of breast cancer in women.
Oxford University’s research was published in the American journal Pediatrics and can be found online here.
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