A study conducted has revealed that longer duration of breast-feeding is associated with reduction in risk of development of Type 2 diabetes in the mother. Previous studies have already provided evidence for improved insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance in lactating mothers when compared to their counterparts.
The study is the first of its kind to explore and establish a relationship between lactation and Type 2 diabetes. More than 1,57,003 parous women who belonged to the Nurses Health study were taken up for the analysis.
The researchers looked specifically into the duration of lactation and the development of Type 2 diabetes. The research was carried out under the able guidance of Alison M. Stuebe, M.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston.
Amongst the study participants, more than 6000 women were found to have Type 2 diabetes. After statistical adjustments were made with respect to the body mass index and other relevant risk factors for development of Diabetes type II, a 15% reduction in the risk of diabetes was found. Furthermore, a 14 % reduction in the risk was evident for every additional year of breastfeeding.
No reduced risk was however found in women who reported their last birth more than 15 years ago. The above finding might be valuable in young and middle aged women.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and is characterized by either deficient production of insulin or ineffective utilization of the available insulin. Multiple lifestyle factors, including diet, exercise, and obesity, are associated with risk of diabetes. More than 9 million adult women are believed to be afflicted with the chronic disease in the United States alone.
If left untreated, it can lead to many different complications, all of which pose a significant health burden to the sufferers. The most predominant ones include heart disease, diabetic retinopathy (damage to eyes, can lead to blindness), diabetic neuropathy (damage to nerves) and diabetic nephropathy (damage to kidney).
In conclusion, more clinical studies are clearly indicated to better understand the physiological mechanisms behind the observation that can be used in the prevention and treatment of diabetes.