Breastfeeding Longer May Protect Against Diabetes

A new study has found that mothers who breast feed their infants for at least six months can cut their risk of developing diabetes almost in half. The U.S.-based study was conducted through a 30-year women's health study that began in the 1980s.

The study included 1,238 women of various races who began the study between the ages of 18 and 30. None of the women had diabetes upon enrollment in the study and all of them went on to have at least one baby and were screened for diabetes up to 7 times over the 30 year period. Diet and exercise details were also included via survey over the study's length and all of the women involved breastfed for at least a month.

The longer the women breastfed their babies, the better the protection against diabetes, the study found.

The results were consistent regardless of the woman's race, lifestyle choices, weight, etc. Even gestational diabetes did not affect the positive results given by longer breast feeding. Researchers can only speculate as to why breast feeding is so positive towards limiting diabetes, but further study could pinpoint the answer.

The most likely reason, the study's authors say, is that breastfeeding mothers have lower blood sugar levels despite higher sugar production. Insulin levels are also lower during this time. Longer breastfeeding also results in a faster transition from the high glucose production of a pregnant and breastfeeding mother to normalized levels of insulin and glucose.

This research adds to existing evidence that breastfeeding is a contributing factor to lower type 2 diabetes risks.

Source: webmd.boots.com

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