Study shows that breastfeeding for extended periods of time may increase risk for osteoporosis

According to a new study, postmenopausal women who spent longer periods of time breast-feeding their children may be at greater risk of developing osteoporosis, Reuters reports.

In a group of postmenopausal Mexican mestizo women - those whose parents are of different races and thus have mixed genetic backgrounds - researchers found that women who breast-fed their children for more than 36 months were twice as likely to get the disease as those who spent less time breast-feeding.

"One of the principal conclusions is the importance of considering the duration of breast-feeding as an important risk factor for osteoporosis," lead author Dr Patricia Canto, of the National Medical Center in Mexico City, told Reuters.

To help reduce the potential risk, the World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund recommend that "infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life...(and should then) receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond."

Approximately eight million women and two million men have osteoporosis in the U.S., according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.