Sacramento (California): Breastfeeding for six months or longer cuts the risk of developing type 2 diabetes nearly in half of women during their childbearing years, the longest ever study has shown, The Telegraph reported on Tuesday.
Researchers in the United States analyzed data from women, who enrolled in a heart health study more than 30 years ago, and whose lifestyles and health were monitored throughout that time.
They found that those who had breastfed their children for at least six months were 47 percent less likely to have developed type 2 diabetes during the three decades compared to mothers who did not breastfeed.
Women who breastfed for fewer than six months also lowered their risk by 25 percent.
Scientists believe that there are good biological reasons why breastfeeding may protect against diabetes.
For example, it is known to boost hormones which control blood insulin levels and lower blood sugar. It can also help new mothers lose pregnancy weight.
“We found a very strong association between breastfeeding duration and lower risk of developing diabetes, even after accounting for all possible confounding risk factors,” said lead author Dr Erica Gunderson, a senior research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in California.
"The incidence of diabetes decreased in a graded manner as breastfeeding duration increased, regardless of race, gestational diabetes, lifestyle behaviors, body size, and other metabolic risk factors measured before pregnancy, implying the possibility that the underlying mechanism may be biological.”
Research has found that breastfed babies have fewer health problems, such as chest infections, and are less likely to develop health problems such as diabetes, or become obese as they get older.
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