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Breast-Feeding Can Help Mom’s Heart Decades Later

Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California reported that among women who didn’t have pregnancy-related diabetes, breast-feeding between one and five months lowered the risk of developing metabolic syndrome by 39 percent.  Breast-feeding for the same duration lowered the risk of the syndrome by 44 percent in women with gestational diabetes. 

The longer a woman breast-fed, the better it was for her later health the medical researchers noted. Breast-feeding for longer than nine months dropped the risk of metabolic syndrome by 86 percent in women with gestational diabetes. Women without gestational diabetes saw a 56 percent reduction in their risk of metabolic syndrome, according to the study. 

The benefits of breast-feeding for infants are well-documented and include lower risk of ear infections, stomach problems, respiratory illnesses, asthma, skin allergies, diabetes and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). For women, breast-feeding appears to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian cancer and postpartum depression, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

The researchers recruited some 1,400 women into a prospective, multi-center study designed to assess what factors increase the risk of coronary artery disease. At the start of the study in 1985, none of the women had been pregnant before, and none had metabolic syndrome. 

The women were examined at the start of the study, and again at 7, 10, 15 and 20 years after the start of the study.   While participating in the study, 704 of the women had babies. During pregnancy, 84 women developed gestational diabetes. During the study follow-up, 120 women developed metabolic syndrome.

Of those who developed metabolic syndrome, the average duration of breast-feeding was 2.6 months, while the average time breast-feeding for women who didn’t develop metabolic syndrome was seven months, according to the study. 

The researchers noted that women who would like to reduce their risk of metabolic syndrome should follow health-eating guidelines, get regular exercise, and if having a baby, consider breast-feeding.  The study appeared online in the journal Diabetes.

Report posted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.

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