Cincinnati Family Magazine

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April 13, 2024

Chubby Baby?

Researchers says cow’s milk formula may be to blame.

A study released on Dec. 27 in Pediatrics covers researchers from the Monell Chemical Senses Center and their recruitment of 56 mothers with new infants to test two types of infant formula. The formula-opting moms and babes were split into two groups and both groups were monitored over seven months of feeding. Starting at 2 weeks of age, 32 of the infants received traditional formula made from cow’s milk.  Twenty four babies received “hypoallergenic” formula called protein hydrolysate formula (PHF), which contains predigested proteins that are easier on infants’ digestive tracts. All the infants were regularly weighed, measured, and videotaped while feeding.

Researchers found that the babies getting cow’s-milk formula had significantly higher weights per length by 2.5 months. After just 3.5 months, researchers found that the cow’s-milk formula group also weighed significantly more for their age, compared with PHF-fed babies, who weighed on average the same as breast-fed infants.  The cow’s-milk formula group remained heavier throughout the study, even though all the infants began eating solid foods at about the same time.
Why the difference? Researchers speculate that the type and amount of protein in PHF may make babies feel fuller faster, or that babies dislike the taste of PHF and eat less.

In their findings, the researchers concluded:
“Because dietary and nutritional programming can have long-term consequences in terms of later development of obesity, diabetes, and other diseases, it is imperative that we learn more about the long-term consequences of the early growth differences caused by environmental triggers, such as those associated with infant formulas, and how and why they differ from breast-feeding, which is the optimal mode of feeding,” the researchers wrote.

To read the health abstract of the report published in Pediatrics head to

About the Author

Susan Day

Susan Day is the editor in chief of Cincinnati Family Magazine and a mother of four.