- Mothers who breastfeed their
babies for 6 months or more reduce their risk of developing type 2
diabetes by nearly half throughout their childbearing years.
- Six months or more of breastfeeding
reduces diabetes risk by 47%, while women who
breastfeed for 6 months or less had a 25% reduction in diabetes risk.
- Breastfeeding also lowers the
mother's risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.
six months or longer reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by half in
women throughout their childbearing years, suggests new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine
. A 47% risk reduction was
observed in women who breastfed for 6 months or over and 25% risk reduction
among women who breastfed for less than 6 months.
"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 Erica P. Gunderson, PhD, MS, MPH, a senior research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of
Protective Effect of Breastfeeding
included 1,238 black and white women who did not have diabetes when they
enrolled in Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA), or prior
to their subsequent pregnancies. CARDIA was a national investigation of cardiovascular disease
risk factors that
originally enrolled about 5,000 adults including more than 1,000 members of
Kaiser Permanente Northern California.
‘Breastfeeding for six months or more reduces a woman’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes by half.’
Each woman had at
least one live birth either during or after their enrollment. They were
followed-up for a period of 30 years post their enrollment where they were
routinely screened for diabetes. The women also reported the amount of time they
studies of breastfeeding, which relied on self-reporting of diabetes onset and
began to follow older women later in life, we were able to follow women
specifically during the childbearing period and screen them regularly for
diabetes before and after pregnancies," Gunderson said.
The team was also
accounted for pre-pregnancy metabolic risk factors, including obesity, fasting glucose,
insulin, lifestyle behaviors and family history of diabetes
in the study group.
- Study strengthens results from
previous studies that suggest breastfeeding lowers a mother's risk of
developing breast and ovarian cancer.
- Black women were three times more
likely than white women to develop diabetes within the 30-year follow-up.
Also, black women enrolled in CARDIA were less likely to breastfeed than
- However, the long-term benefits of breastfeeding that is
reducing the risk of diabetes, were similar for black women and white
women, and women with and without gestational diabetes.
months or more of breastfeeding reduces diabetes risk by 47% while less
than 6 months of breastfeeding reduced diabetes risk by 25%.
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," Gunderson
The team suggests
that the strong association between breastfeeding and lowering diabetes risk is
yet another reason that doctors, nurses, and hospitals should support and
encourage women to breastfeed as long as possible.
- Erica P. Gunderson, Cora E. Lewis, Ying Lin; et al., Lactation Duration and Progression to Diabetes in Women Across the Childbearing Years. JAMA Internal Medicine (2018), DOI:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.7978