Breast-feeding May Boost Mom’s Heart Health
In a study published online in Diabetes, researchers analyzed how breast-feeding affected the long-term health of close to 1,400 women. They found that women who breast-fed for a month or more were much less likely to develop metabolic syndrome later in life than those who didn’t. Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that significantly raise the risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. To be diagnosed, you must have at least three of the following risk factors:
Nursing After Gestational Diabetes Especially Beneficial
In most cases, women who had gestational diabetes—a type of diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy—seemed to reap the most benefits. Women with the condition who breast-fed for one to five months after giving birth reduced their risk for metabolic syndrome by 44 percent compared with those who breast-fed for less than a month or not at all. Women with a diabetes-free pregnancy who breast-fed the same length of time dropped their risk by 39 percent. The longer a woman in either category breast-fed, the lower her risk for metabolic syndrome.
Cholesterol, Fat May Be Key Factors to Breast-feeding Benefits
Researchers don’t know exactly how breast-feeding reduces the risk for the metabolic syndrome. It may lower blood cholesterol levels or change the way fat is distributed in the body. Both can influence the development of the syndrome.
To learn other ways to reduce your risk for the metabolic syndrome, go to www.nhlbi.nih.gov and search for the “metabolic syndrome prevention.”