Investigating the relationship between infant feeding practices and inflammation-associated biomarkers of one-year-old infants in the CHILD Cohort study

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Ames, Spencer
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Breastfeeding and human milk consumption are associated with immune system development; however, the impact of different infant feeding practices on this relationship is unclear. This research aimed to understand how current human milk feeding (HMF) status is related to immune activity, and how history of HMF (HMF duration, exclusivity, and method - directly from the breast, or pumped and bottled) is related to immune development, in one-year-old infants. This study investigated a subset of 605 one-year-old infants from the CHILD Cohort Study, a cohort study that recruited pregnant women from four Canadian provinces. Infant feeding was captured from hospital birth records and parent questionnaires. Ninety-two biomarkers reflecting immune system activity and development were measured in infant serum using the Olink Target 96 Inflammation panel. Associations were determined using multivariable regression (adjusted for sex, time until blood sample centrifugation, and participant study site), with adjustment for multiple comparisons. Nearly half (44%) of infants were still breastfeeding at the time of blood sampling (12.6 ± 1.4 months). Compared to infants who were never breastfed or had stopped breastfeeding, those who were still breastfeeding had higher levels of serum Fibroblast Growth Factor 21 (FGF-21, adjusted standardized β-coefficient=0.56, 95%CI=0.41-0.72), Cluster of Differentiation 244 (CD244, β=0.35, 0.19-0.50), Chemokine Ligand 6 (CXCL6, β=0.34, 0.18-0.50), and Chemokine Ligand 20 (CCL20, β=0.26 ,0.09-0.42), and lower levels of extracellular newly identified receptor for advanced glycation end-products binding protein (EN-RAGE, β=-0.16, -0.29- - 0.03). Among infants not currently HMF, total HMF duration had a marginal positive association with IL-7 serum levels (adjusted standardized β-coefficient =0.05, 0.02- 0.08). Exclusive HMF duration and HMF method (at three months of age) were not associated with any biomarkers in adjusted models. Current HMF status, more so than prior infant feeding practices, is associated with changes in inflammation-associated biomarker profiles at one year of age. In addition to informing new hypotheses about the impact of breastfeeding on immune development and activity, these results highlight the importance of including current HMF status in immune-system-focused infant serum proteomic studies.
Breastfeeding, Immune system development, Inflammation, CHILD Cohort Study, Infant feeding practices