WHY Breastfeed?

May 8, 2009

Go to fullsize imagehat breastfeeding is best for babies…now we know its also good for mothers as well.  Good news for those who believe in the benefits of breastfeeding based on a new study publsihed in the recent journal of Obsetrics and Gynecology, May 2009: 

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OBJECTIVE: To examine dose-response relationships between the cumulative number of months women lactated and postmenopausal risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

METHODS: We examined data from 139,681 postmenopausal women (median age 63 years) who reported at least one live birth on enrolling in the Women’s Health Initiative observational study or controlled trials.

RESULTS: Dose-response relationships were seen; in fully adjusted models,

  • women who reported a lifetime history of more than 12 months of lactation were less likely to have hypertension , diabetes, hyperlipidemia, or cardiovascular disease than women who never breast-fed, but
  • they were not less likely to be obese.

In models adjusted for all above variables and BMI, similar relationships were seen. Using multivariate adjusted prevalence ratios from generalized linear models,

  • we estimate that among parous women who did not breast-feed compared with those who breast-fed for more than 12 months, 42.1% versus 38.6% would have hypertension, 5.3% versus 4.3% would have diabetes, 14.8% versus 12.3% would have hyperlipidemia, and 9.9% versus 9.1% would have developed cardiovascular disease when postmenopausal.
  • Over an average of 7.9 years of postmenopausal participation in the Women’s Health Initiative, women with a single live birth who breast-fed for 7-12 months were significantly less likely to develop cardiovascular disease  than women who never breast-fed.

CONCLUSION: Among postmenopausal women, increased duration of lactation was associated with a lower prevalence of hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and cardiovascular disease.

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What this study showed is that women who breastfed for more than one year throughout their lifetime were 10% less likely to have a heart attack or stroke.  But what’s important is that these breastfeeding women were also less likely to develop the dreaded metabolic syndrome: 20% less likely to develop of diabetes, 12% less likely to have hypertension and 19% less leklely to develop high cholesterol. 

How long should one breastfeed top get the effect?  Well, even women who had breastfed for only one month had lower rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Why do benefits result with breastfeeding? 

Well most likely women who breastfeed their babies are more careful with their health in terms of food habits and lifestyle.  Likewise the hormone oxytocin produced during breastfeeding have the capacity to relax the vessels that may play a role in delaying plaque buildup in the vessel walls.

There you go guys…

Breastfeeding is Good for Our Health!

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