Mums who breastfeed for more than a year may decrease the risks of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, new research suggests. A new study found that mothers who breastfeed longer may be able to cut their risk of metabolic syndrome.
This syndrome describes a cluster of conditions including increased blood pressure , high body sugar levels and excess fat around the waist. These conditions, which occur together, increase the risk of the sufferer developing heart disease, diabetes, or suffering a stroke.
NHS guidelines say women should feed their babies exclusively with breast milk until they are at least six months old, and then continue breastfeeding while gradually introducing other food.
A study published last year in The Lancet found just one in 200 children children in the UK are breastfed until the age of 12 months. The last research, published in the Journal of Women’s Health, divided 4,700 women between 19 and 50-years-old into four groups based on how long they breastfed their baby.
The women, all Korean, were separated into those who breastfed for less-than five months, between six and eleven months, between 12 and 23 months and finally, those who breastfed for over two years. The study found the women who breastfed for longer had a decreased risk of individual components of metabolic syndrome, such as blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol.
Study author Professor Se Rin Choi, from Hallym University, Seoul, Korea, said:
“Breast feeding is not only the optimal nutrition for the first 6 months of life but also related to various medical benefits for the child and the mother.
“[This] study found that Korean young and middle-aged parous women with lifelong breast feeding for more than 12 months were at a lower risk of metabolic syndrome than those with lifelong breast feeding for 5 months.
“Breast feeding for 12-23 months was associated with lower risks of elevated blood pressure and elevated glucose.See Also
“Women who breastfed for more than 24 months exhibited a decreased risk of metabolic syndrome than those who breastfed for 12-23 months.
“Our results suggest that lifelong breast feeding for more than 12 months may be associated with lower risk for metabolic syndrome in parous women.”
Professor Susan Kornstein, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Women’s Health, said:
“The advantageous effects of breastfeeding for newborns and babies are well established, and this study, which suggests that breastfeeding may protect the mother against metabolic syndrome, further adds to the evidence base supporting the benefits of breastfeeding for maternal health.”