Maternal diet during lactation and breast-feeding practices have synergistic association with child diet at 6 years

Jacob P. Beckerman, Emily Slade, Alison K. Ventura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objective: Children breast-fed during infancy consume more fruits and vegetables than formula-fed children. This pattern is likely due, in part, to infant learning from flavours of the mother's diet transmitted through breast milk, but more research is needed to understand associations between early flavour exposures and later dietary patterns. We examined whether breast-feeding and maternal fruit and vegetable consumption during nursing were synergistically associated with higher child fruit and vegetable consumption.Design: Prospective cohort study of breast-feeding duration, maternal diet postpartum and child diet. Complete breast-feeding and maternal diet data were available for 1396 mother-child dyads; multiple imputation was used for missing data in other variables. In separate multivariable logistic regression models, we estimated the adjusted odds of high child fruit or vegetable consumption at 12 months or 6 years as a function of breast-feeding duration, maternal fruit or vegetable consumption during nursing, and their interaction.Setting: The Infant Feeding Practices Study II and Year 6 Follow-Up.Participants: Mother-child dyads followed from birth to 6 years during 2005-2012 in the USA.Results: Longer breast-feeding duration was associated with high child fruit and vegetable consumption at 12 months. At 6 years, the interaction between breast-feeding duration and maternal vegetable consumption was associated with high child vegetable consumption.Conclusions: Higher maternal vegetable consumption and longer breast-feeding duration were synergistically associated with high child vegetable consumption at 6 years, independent of sociodemographic characteristics and fruit and vegetable availability. Exposures to vegetable flavours through breast milk may promote later child vegetable consumption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-294
Number of pages9
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements: The authors would like to thank Dr Julie Mennella for her feedback on the manuscript. Financial support: This work was supported by a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Training Grant in Academic Nutrition (J.P.B., grant number T32DK0077). The NIH had no role in the design, analysis or writing of this article. Conflict of interest: None. Authorship: J.P.B. conceptualized and designed the study, performed the statistical analyses, and drafted, reviewed and revised the manuscript. E.S. oversaw the analysis and reviewed and revised the manuscript. A.K.V. conceptualized and designed the study, oversaw the analysis, and reviewed and revised the manuscript. All authors approved the final manuscript as submitted and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work. Ethics of human subject participation: As a secondary analysis of de-identified data, the present study was deemed exempt from approval by the Harvard University and California Polytechnic State University Institutional Review Boards. Initial data collection procedures were approved by the Research Involving Human Subjects Committee of the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Office of Management and Budget.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Authors.


  • Breast-feeding
  • Child diet
  • Maternal diet
  • Vegetables

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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