Study finds breastfeeding benefits moms’ health later in life

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August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week.

It’s well-known that breastfeeding has many health advantages for infants.

But a recent study shows breastfeeding is good for mom’s health too.

The study looked at data on more than 200,000 people.

“They found that for women who breastfed their infant for more than 12 months, the risk for diabetes later in life was cut by 30 percent, risk for hypertension was cut by 13 percent,” said Kathryn Goebel, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, who did not take part in the study.

Researchers noted when women breastfeed, the hormone oxytocin is released, which is associated with reduced stress and decreased blood pressure, which, they said, can explain why women who breast fed had lower risk of hypertension.

For brand new moms, Dr. Goebel admits the idea of breastfeeding for an entire year can seem overwhelming.

But, she said it gets easier after the first couple of weeks, and enlisting support, whether through a lactation consultant, or other moms, is key.

Dr. Goebel said even if you don’t make it to your goal of breastfeeding for a full 12 months, any breastfeeding is better than none.

She said it’s definitely worth forging through those first couple of weeks, when it’s the most challenging, because there is a big health pay-off for both mom and baby.

“Certainly, we know that avoiding alcohol and smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and exercise routine can help to reduce your risk for blood pressure issues and for diabetes, but breastfeeding is one more thing that you can do for your long-term health while getting all the other benefits for both yourself and your baby,” said Dr. Goebel.

Complete results of the study can be found in JAMA Network Open.