Breastfeeding is important for the health and wellbeing of mothers and their children. There are many good reasons to continue to breastfeed; one is that breastfeeding reduces diabetes risk.
Leading health organisations such as the World Health Organization recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months.
After that, it’s recommended to introduce solids and continue breastfeeding for two years and beyond.
Previous research has found an association between breastfeeding and a reduced risk of maternal type II diabetes. However, this research relied on the mother’s self-reporting of diabetes, rather than on a medically determined diagnosis.
Also, previous research didn’t control for gestational diabetes, which is a known risk factor for the development of type II diabetes.
A new study has overcome these problems and here is what the research found.
Breastfeeding Reduces Type II Diabetes Risk
In this new study, researchers monitored more than one thousand black and white women, over a 30-year period.
The researchers analysed data during the 30 years of follow up, and found women who breastfed for six months or more had a 47% reduced risk of developing type II diabetes, compared with those who did not breastfeed at all.
Women who breastfed for six months or less had a 25% reduced risk of developing type II diabetes.
The findings of this study were consistent, regardless of race, gestational diabetes, lifestyle behaviours, body size, and other metabolic risk factors measured before pregnancy.
This suggests it’s likely the relationship between breastfeeding and reduced type II diabetes risk is based on plausible biological mechanisms directly related to breastfeeding.
More research continues to highlight breastfeeding as an important biological process, with many health benefits for mothers and their children.
Unfortunately, breastfeeding is still undervalued as an important strategy in helping to reduce the risk of metabolic diseases in women.
Over 13 million women are diagnosed with type II diabetes in the US alone. It’s certainly worth making sure all breastfeeding women are aware of this significant reduction in risk.