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Breastfeeding May Reduce Risk of Diabetes

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We all know breastfeeding has health benefits for babies. And it seems we are hearing more and more how breastfeeding has health benefits for moms, too.
The latest study from researchers at Kaiser Permanente found that breastfeeding lowered a woman’s risk for developing metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a bunch of risk factors (elevated blood pressure, insulin resistance and belly fat) that are linked to diabetes and heart disease.
Here’s a news story from WebMD and a story from Reuters.
And from USA Today:
“Pregnancy may have some adverse effects on some of these cardiovascular risk factors,” lead author Erica Gunderson says, “and lactation (breast-feeding) may offset some of these effects.”
The impact of breast-feeding on the risk of metabolic syndrome was “slightly stronger” in women who’d had gestational — or pregnancy-induced — diabetes, says Gunderson, an epidemiologist and research scientist at Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research in Oakland. “This is the first study to really look at lactation and the metabolic syndrome in women with GDM (gestational diabetes).”…
Gunderson and her co-authors based their new findings on 704 women in an ongoing, government-funded study of heart-disease risk factors. When the women entered the study in 1985-1986, they were ages 18-30 and had never given birth; testing confirmed they didn’t have metabolic syndrome.
They all went on to deliver at least one child; only 16% had more than two children. They returned for measurements of metabolic syndrome components seven, 10, 15 and 20 years after entering the study; 120 developed metabolic syndrome.
In women who didn’t have gestational diabetes, breast-feeding cut metabolic syndrome risk 39%-56%. In those who did, it cut the risk 44%-86%. In both, the authors write in Diabetes: The Journal of the American Diabetes Association, the longer women breast-fed, the lower their risk.

I’ve written before about another study that also found breastfeeding reduced the risk of metabolic syndrome.

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