Bottle-Feeding Tied to Tummy Troubles for Baby

Hypertrophic pyloric stenosis risk appeared to increase with bottle feeding

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Some conditions that babies can develop soon after birth may be very rare but require surgery. It can be helpful to know what might increase the risks for these conditions.

A recent study found that one rare digestive disorder might be more common among babies who were bottle-fed than in those who were breastfed.

Hypertrophic pyloric stenosis, or HPS, is a condition in which the passageway from the stomach to the small intestine becomes narrower. This narrowing can lead to a blockage leading to the small intestine and cause forceful vomiting and dehydration.

HPS occurs in about 2 out of every 1,000 babies, usually within their first two months. It usually requires surgery to treat.

In this recent study, babies who had been bottle-fed were more likely to develop HPS than babies who had been breastfed.

"Ask a pediatrician for tips on feeding your baby."

This study, led by Jarod P. McAteer, MD, MPH, of the Division of Pediatric General and Thoracic Surgery at Seattle Children's Hospital, aimed to find out if bottle feeding after birth contributed to the risk of HPS.

The researchers identified 714 babies who had been born between 2003 and 2009 in Washington state and were admitted to the hospital for HPS.

Then the researchers compared these babies to 7,140 infants who did not develop HPS. Each baby with HPS was matched to 10 babies without HPS according to their birth years.

The researchers specifically compared how many babies in each group were breastfed versus bottle-fed.

The researchers found that 19.5 percent of the babies who developed HPS had been fed with bottles, compared to only 9.1 percent of the comparison babies.

In comparing risks, the researchers found that babies fed by a bottle still had about double the odds of developing HPS compared to breastfed babies.

The researchers then took into account other factors that might influence the risk of HPS, including the baby's sex, the mother's age, the mother's race/ethnicity, the mother's weight, the number of children the mother had given birth to, whether the baby was premature or late and whether the mother smoked during pregnancy.

The baby's sex or the mother's smoking during pregnancy did not affect a baby's risk of HPS. A mother's age, however, did appear to make a difference in how likely a baby was to develop the condition.

The babies of mothers under the age of 20 had no increased risk of HPS regardless of whether they were bottle-fed or breastfed.

However, babies of mothers who were 35 or older had six times greater odds of developing HPS if they were bottle-fed compared to breastfed babies born to mothers under 20.

In addition, mothers with more children were more likely than mothers with only one child to see their baby develop HPS when bottle-fed.

The researchers also found that the rate of HPS among babies decreased during the years included in the study.

The rate of HPS was 14 cases per 10,000 babies in 2003, which dropped to 9 cases per 10,000 babies in 2009.

During this same time period, breastfeeding became more common in Washington, increasing from 80 percent in 2003 to 94 percent in 2009.

The researchers therefore concluded that bottle feeding did appear to increase the risk that a baby would develop HPS, but primarily in older women and women with multiple children.

It's not clear, however, how bottle feeding might directly relate to HPS.

This study was published October 21 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. The authors declared no conflict of interest. The study did not note any external funding sources.

Review Date: 
October 18, 2013
Last Updated:
October 22, 2013