Mothers who breastfeed may reduce their chance of developing type 2 diabetes

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have discovered that mothers who do not breastfeed their children may have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Led by Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, the team analyzed data from 2,233 women between the ages of 40 and 78. Approximately 56 percent of mothers reported that they had breastfed an infant for at least one month in the past, compared to 27 percent of women who had never done so.

The researchers found that participants who had never breastfed were almost twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes, compared to women who had either breastfed before or had never given birth.

"Few people realize that breastfeeding also reduces mothers' risk of developing the disease later in life by decreasing maternal belly fat," Schwarz said. "Our study provides another good reason to encourage women to breastfeed their infants, at least for the [child's] first month of life."

She added that clinicians need to consider the pregnancy and lactation history of patients when advising them about their risk for type 2 diabetes.
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