By Serena Gordon
TUESDAY, Jan. 16, 2018 (HealthDay News) — It’s often said breast-feeding is best for babies, but new research suggests it also might have a significant long-term benefit for moms — preventing type 2 diabetes.
In fact, women who breast-fed more than six months had about half the risk for type 2 diabetes as did women who never breast-fed, according to Gunderson. She is an epidemiologist and senior research scientist with Kaiser Permanente Northern California’s division of research in Oakland.
In babies, breast-feeding has been linked to a reduced risk for infections, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, some cancers and childhood overweight and obesity. In mothers, breast-feeding helps return to pre-pregnancy weight and decrease postpartum blood loss and menstrual blood loss. Breast-feeding has also been associated with a lower risk for breast and ovarian cancer in mothers, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The new study began 30 years ago when researchers recruited young women, then 18 to 30 years old, for a study on heart disease. During that study, researchers also gathered information on pregnancy and breast-feeding. They also tested the women every five years for diabetes.
That produced information on more than 1,200 women for the new study. Half were black, and half were white. All had at least one live birth.
The researchers adjusted the data to account for other factors that could affect a woman’s risk for type 2 diabetes. These included income, education, weight, diet quality, physical activity, medication use and other health conditions.
By the end of the 30-year study, 182 of the women had developed type 2 diabetes.
Women who breast-fed for 6 to 12 months had a 48 percent lower risk for type 2 diabetes than women who never breast-fed, the findings showed.
The protective effect of breast-feeding didn’t differ by race or the presence of gestational diabetes, the study found.