31/01/2012 14:48 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Formula-Fed Babies More 'At Risk Of Becoming Overweight In Childhood', Say Scientists

Bottle fed baby

Bottle feeding newborn babies with formula milk may increase the risk of children developing diabetes and obesity when they grow up, according to scientists.

New research said breast is best when it comes to preventing these conditions in later life, despite the fact that one in three UK mothers never attempt to breastfeed.

The findings from LIFE – the Faculty of Life Sciences at Copenhagen University in Denmark - showed that breastfed babies follow a different growth pattern to those who drink formula milk, which is likely to have future health benefits.

Breast milk lowers levels of the growth hormone IGF-1 and insulin in the blood, which slows the rate of growth even after the child has started on solid foods. Slower weight gain is known to encourage healthier eating patterns.

In stark contrast, formula milk may increase the production of fat cells, which encourages weight gain throughout childhood.

The researchers followed 330 children at nine, 18 and 36 months and concluded that the longer the period of breastfeeding, the lower a child's weight at the age of 18 months.

"We can see that breastfeeding has a significant, measurable effect on the important growth regulators in the blood, IGF-I and insulin. The more times the child was breastfed, the lower the hormone levels," research team member Anja Lykke Madsen, told the Daily Mail.

"This suggests that the child has a slightly lower risk of becoming overweight later in childhood.

"The longer the children were breastfed, the lower their weight at 18 months."

What do you think? Yes, we all know 'breast is best' but if you bottle fed your baby have you noticed any weight differences?