Mothers who did not breastfeed their children have significantly higher rates of type 2 diabetes later in life than moms who breastfed, reports a study in the American Journal of Medicine.
"We have seen dramatic increases in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes over the last century," said Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, at the University of Pittsburgh. "Diet and exercise are widely known to impact the risk of type 2 diabetes, but few people realize that breastfeeding also reduces mothers' risk of developing the disease later in life by decreasing maternal belly fat."
The study - which involved 2,233 women - found that 27 percent of mothers who did not breastfeed developed type 2 diabetes and were almost twice as likely to develop the disease as women who had breastfed or never given birth. In contrast, mothers who breastfed all of their children were no more likely to develop diabetes than women who never gave birth. The differences were notable even after considering age, race, physical activity and tobacco and alcohol use.
"Our study provides another good reason to encourage women to breastfeed their infants, at least for the infant's first month of life," said Schwarz. "Clinicians need to consider women's pregnancy and lactation history when advising women about their risk for developing type 2 diabetes."
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Source: University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences