Adiposity and hepatic lipid in healthy full-term, breastfed, and formula-fed human infants: a prospective short-term longitudinal cohort study1-3

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid



The effect of mode of infant feeding on adiposity deposition is not fully understood.


The objective was to test the hypothesis that differences in total and regional adipose tissue content and intrahepatocellular lipid (IHCL) arise in early infancy between breast- and formula-fed infants and to describe longitudinal changes.


This prospective longitudinal cohort study was performed in 2 hospitals in the United Kingdom. Healthy, full-term, appropriate weight-for-gestational age infants were recruited; adipose tissue volume and distribution were directly quantified by using wholebody magnetic resonance imaging; IHCL was assessed by in vivo proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Measurements were performed after birth (median age: 13 d) and at 6-12 wk of age. Method of infant feeding was recorded prospectively by using maternally completed feeding diaries. Breastfed was defined as >80% of feeds consisting of breast milk at both points; formula-fed was defined as >80% of feeds consisting of formula milk at both points.


Longitudinal results were obtained from 70 infants (36 breastfed, 9 mixed-fed, and 25 formula-fed). No differences were found in total or regional adipose tissue or IHCL between breastfed and formula-fed infants. In pooled analyses including all feeding groups, IHCL and total adipose tissue approximately doubled between birth and 6-12 wk: IHCL after birth (median: 0.949; IQR: 0.521-1.711) and at 6-12 wk (1.828; 1.376-2.697; P < 0.001) and total adipose tissue after birth (0.749 L; 0.620-0.928 L) and at 6-12 wk (1.547 L; 1.332-1.790 L; P < 0.001). Increasing adiposity was characterized by greater relative increases in subcutaneous than in internal adipose tissue depots.


No differences were detectable in adipose tissue or IHCL accretion between breastfed and formula-fed infants up to 2 mo. The substantial increase in IHCL seen over this period in both breastfed and formula-fed infants is a novel observation, which suggests that hepatic storage of lipids may be physiologic up to 2 mo. This trial was registered at as NCT02033005. Am J Clin Nutr 2014;99:1034-40.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles