Breastfeeding a newborn for even one month will lower a woman's lifetime risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to a study published Friday. Other research has also linked breastfeeding to a reduced risk of diabetes among women, but the new study establishes the strength of the association to a much greater degree.
The question now is, why wouldn't every new mother breastfeed for at least one month? And, how can society make it easier on new mothers so they can nurse?
The study, led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, examined data from 2,233 women in California's Kaiser Permanente healthcare system. The women, ages 40 to 78, provided information on births, breastfeeding practices for each child, duration of breastfeeding and history of Type 2 diabetes.
Researchers found that 27% of the mothers who did not breastfeed developed Type 2 diabetes. These women were almost twice as likely to develop the disease compared with women who had breastfed or who had never given birth. Among the women who breastfed for one to six months, 19% developed Type 2 diabetes compared with 16% among women who breastfed for six months or more.