Diabetes, Heart and Cardiovascular Diseases News Chronicle.  Diabetes, Cardiovascular and Heart Diseases
 Article 322
    Published on April 12, 2018

Longer breastfeeding decreases type 2 diabetes risk for mothers

Breastfeeding for a year duration was recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. But earlier studies show only 55 percent of the women found to be breastfeeding in six months and just 33 percent of the women in 12 months after birth. Earlier studies also show following risks will be reduced in babies with breastfeeding until they reach at least six months of age.

  • Ear infections.
  • Respiratory infections.
  • Allergies such as food allergy.
  • Type 2 diabetes (T2D).
  • Obesity or overweight.
  • A sudden death of a baby without any reason (also known as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), cot death or crib death).

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) supported uncontrolled study shows lower risk to the development of type II diabetes in the mother with a longer period of breastfeeding (also known as nursing).

Researchers have conducted analytical studies on 1,238 mothers, aged between 18 to 30 years with an average age of 24 years, both black and white race and having at least one baby during the study. All of them are without type II diabetes at the start of the study. They used the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study data in the current study.

Over a period of 25 years, they found type 2 diabetes developments in 182 women. The following table shows new type 2 diabetes development per year among women with the breastfeeding duration.

Number of
breastfeeding mothers
New type 2 diabetes events
per 1,000 mothers per year
More than 12 months 230 (19%) 4
Up to 12 months 268 (22%) 5
Up to 6 months 418 (34%) 7
No breastfeeding 322 (25%) 10

Among women with gestational diabetes during their pregnancy, study results show 2.08 percent enhanced risk of type 2 diabetes per year to those women who did not breastfeed at all compared to those women who breastfeed for at least 12 months.

But among women without gestational diabetes during their pregnancy, study results show just 0.48 percent risk of type 2 diabetes per year to those women who did not breastfeed at all compared to those women who breastfeed for at least 12 months.

The study found gradual decrease in the risk of type 2 diabetes with an increased breastfeeding duration. The biological association was independent of other risk factors to type 2 diabetes such as race, diet, lifestyle, obesity or body mass index (BMI), gestational diabetes and other risk factors.

Researchers say their study results show breastfeeding mothers may get more health benefits than previously known. They also say longer periods of breastfeeding lowers future type 2 diabetes risk, even among those women who developed gestational diabetes during their pregnancy. Researchers say lactation failure (lactation insufficiency, insufficient milk syndrome or cessation of breastfeeding) due to low milk supply could increase the risk to the development of type 2 diabetes. In experiments with mice models, researchers have found rapid growth in the pancreatic beta-cells with lactation.

Risk of type 2 diabetes can be reduced among those women who can not breastfeed by using measures such as reducing body mass index (BMI) or obesity, regular exercise or workout and lifestyle modifications.

Breastfeeding lowers type 2 diabetes in women mother even with pregnant pregnancy gestational diabetes.

Lead author of the study was Erica P. Gunderson, PhD, MS, MPH, senior research scientist, the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, Oakland, California. The study findings were published January 16, 2018, in the JAMA Internal Medicine. Title of the article was "Lactation Duration and Progression to Diabetes in Women Across the Childbearing Years. The 30-Year CARDIA Study." DOI : dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.7978

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