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Breast-feeding and postpartum weight retention: a systematic review and meta-analysis

  • Xiujie He (a1), Meng Zhu (a1), Chuanlai Hu (a1), Xingyong Tao (a1), Yingchun Li (a1), Qiuwei Wang (a1) and Yue Liu (a1)...



Weight gained during pregnancy and postpartum weight retention might contribute to obesity in women of childbearing age. Whether breast-feeding (BF) may decrease postpartum weight retention (PPWR) is still controversial. The purpose of our systematic review and meta-analysis was to investigate the relationship between BF and PPWR.


Three databases were systematically reviewed and the reference lists of relevant articles were checked. Meta-analysis was performed to quantify the pooled standardized mean differences (SMD) of BF on PPWR by using a random-effect model. Heterogeneity was tested using the χ 2 test and I 2 statistics. Publication bias was estimated from Egger’s test (linear regression method) or Begg’s test (rank correlation method).


Among 349 search hits, eleven studies met the inclusion criteria for the meta-analysis. Seven studies were conducted in the USA, one in Brazil, one in France, one in Georgia and one in Croatia. Compared with formula-feeding, BF for 3 to ≤6 months seemed to have a negative influence on PPWR and if BF continued for >6 months had little or no influence on PPWR. In a subgroup meta-analysis, the results did not change substantially after the analysis had been classified by available confounding factors. There was no indication of a publication bias from the result of either Egger’s test or Begg’s test.


Although the available evidence held belief that BF decreases PPWR, more robust studies are needed to reliably assess the impact of patterns and duration of BF on PPWR.

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